NASCAR and Comcast Reach 10-yr deal on series title sponsorship

nascarComcast’s XFINITY Brand to Become Only Third Title Sponsor of the Series ‘Where Names Are Made’

DAYTONA BEACH, FL and PHILADELPHIA, PA –– SEPTEMBER 3, 2014 ––  NASCAR and Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)announced today a historic agreement that will make Comcast’s XFINITY brand the title sponsor of what is now known as the NASCAR Nationwide Series through 2024. The 10-year term matches the longest single agreement around title sponsorship of any NASCAR national series in history, and is the longest entitlement sponsorship agreement in this series’ history.

Beginning January 1, 2015, the property will be known as the NASCAR XFINITY Series. XFINITY will become only the third title sponsor in series history following Anheuser-Busch (26 years) and Nationwide Insurance (seven years). The agreement also makes XFINITY an Official NASCAR Partner in the multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) and broadband ISP categories.

The announcement was made during an event at the NASCAR Hall of Fame – where the sport’s history is celebrated every day – and was the first series entitlement sponsorship ever announced at the venue.

XFINITY is Comcast’s residential service brand and is the nation’s largest video and high-speed Internet provider. The company has increased Internet speeds for existing customers 13 times in 12 years and recently introduced XFINITY on the X1 Entertainment Operating System. The company also offers XFINITY On Demand, the most robust video on demand platform in the world. Comcast serves business and residential customers in 39 states and Washington, D.C.

“We’re proud to welcome XFINITY to the NASCAR community as title sponsor of the NASCAR XFINITY Series for the next decade,” said Brian France, NASCAR Chairman & CEO. “NASCAR and XFINITY are each leader brands with much in common. Both are focused on innovation and have products built for speed. Together, we will work to take this series to new heights and elevate one of the most unique and powerful partnerships in all of sports.”

What will soon be known as the NASCAR XFINITY Series is the property where names are made and is like nothing else in major pro sports. It features the most talented young drivers regularly competing side-by-side against NASCAR’s biggest and brightest stars.

“Technology lives at the heart of NASCAR, just as it does for XFINITY,” said Dave Watson, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Comcast Cable. “NASCAR provides an exciting environment in which to showcase our video and Internet products and we look forward to further enhancing the fan experience at home, at the track and on the go for years to come.”

The series also has a large, highly engaged and technology-connected television audience. It races in some of the nation’s largest markets – from Chicago to Los Angeles to Miami – and at the sport’s biggest and most iconic tracks – from Daytona International Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway, to Talladega Superspeedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

According to NASCAR Fan Engagement Tracker 2013 (commissioned by NASCAR and conducted by Toluna), NASCAR fans spend an average of four-and-a-half hours each week watching NASCAR on television and an additional two-and-a-half-hours each week following the sport on digital platforms.

XFINITY is among the premier sponsors in sports today and a robust sponsorship activation program is part of the new agreement with NASCAR, with aggressive planning already underway.

Comcast’s involvement with NASCAR is expanding rapidly. In addition to the NASCAR XFINITY Series announced today, Comcast’s NBC Sports unit will begin broadcasting NASCAR race events in July 2015.

After a successful seven-year run as series entitlement sponsor, Nationwide Insurance pivoted its marketing programs to become a NASCAR team sponsor next season. Nationwide also is the official auto, home, life and business insurance partner of NASCAR.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series will make its return to Richmond International Raceway for the Virginia529 College Savings 250 on September 5, and will be aired on ESPN2. The first race of the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series season, and of the new partnership, will be during Daytona Speedweeks on February 21, 2015, at the famed Daytona International Speedway.

About NASCAR

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States. NASCAR consists of three national series (the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series), four regional series, one local grassroots series and three international series. The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) governs the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the premier U.S. sports car series. Based in Daytona Beach, Fla., with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. For more information visit www.NASCAR.com and follow NASCAR at www.Facebook.com/NASCAR and Twitter: @NASCAR.

About Comcast Cable

Comcast Cable is the nation’s largest video, high-speed Internet and phone provider to residential customers under the XFINITY brand and also provides these services to businesses. Comcast has invested in technology to build an advanced network that delivers among the fastest broadband speeds, and brings customers personalized video, communications and home management offerings. Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is a global media and technology company. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.

FOX Sports Unveils Expanded NASCAR Coverage for 2015

NASCAR_on_FOXFOX Carries 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Races,

Four NASCAR Nationwide Series Races Over-the-Air

FOX Sports 1 Adds NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Race Coverage;

Increases Already Strong Motor Sports Lineup

Charlotte, N.C. – FOX Sports, the leader in televised motor sports, today unveils its expansive NASCAR race schedule for 2015, including the first eight NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES point races on FOX, plus six coming to FOX Sports 1 for the first time.  The season kicks off from Daytona Speedweeks with the SPRINT UNLIMITED, DAYTONA 500 POLE QUALIFYING and 57th running of the DAYTONA 500 all on the broadcast network.

The FOX over-the-air schedule, which boasts more races than any other outlet, features point events at Atlanta, Las Vegas, Phoenix, California, Martinsville, Texas, Bristol, Talladega and Charlotte. In addition, six NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES point races are scheduled to air live on FOX Sports 1 for the first time, joining the BUDWEISER DUEL and the NASCAR SPRINT ALL-STAR RACE.

As part of the new 10-year television package, NASCAR on FOX delivers, for the first time, the initial 14 races of the NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES season, with four events – Phoenix, Talladega, Charlotte and Dover – on FOX, and the remaining 10 on FOX Sports 1. The NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES is second only to Sprint Cup as the most-watched racing in the country.

”Everyone at FOX Sports welcomes the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and is pleased with the changes that NASCAR made to the Sprint Cup schedule for 2015,” said Bill Wanger, Executive Vice President, Programming, Research and Content Strategy, FOX Sports.  “We worked closely with NASCAR to have a strong second race and Atlanta fits the bill beautifully.  We now have a powerful 1-2 punch to start the season with Daytona and Atlanta before heading out West.”

In 2015, the NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES returns to FOX (Talladega) and FOX Sports 1 for a full 23-race season of competition, beginning in Daytona. FOX Sports 1 also continues to deliver live coverage of practice and qualifying sessions across all three national series and the popular programs NASCAR RACE HUB, NASCAR RACEDAY, NASCAR LIVE and NASCAR VICTORY LANE, as well as live updates to viewers of FOX SPORTS LIVE, the network’s flagship news program.

In addition to extensive coverage from Winter Testing and Daytona Speedweeks, NASCAR on FOX also continues its 10 DAYS OF THUNDER campaign, highlighting the back-to-back Charlotte race weekends in May that culminate with a Memorial Day Weekend salute to our troops.

All races on FOX and FOX Sports 1 also are available through FOX Sports GO, the app that provides live streaming video of FOX Sports content.

2015 NASCAR on FOX/FOX Sports 1 lineup:

  • 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on FOX (10 point races): Sprint Unlimited, Daytona 500 Pole Qualifying, Daytona, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Phoenix, California, Martinsville, Texas, Bristol, Talladega, Charlotte
  • 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on FOX Sports 1 (6 point races): Budweiser Duel, Richmond, Kansas, NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, Dover, Pocono, Michigan, Sonoma
  • 2015 NASCAR Nationwide Series on FOX (4 point races): Phoenix, Talladega, Charlotte, Dover
  • 2015 NASCAR Nationwide Series on FOX Sports 1 (10 point races): Daytona, Atlanta, Las Vegas, California, Texas, Bristol, Richmond, Iowa, Michigan, Chicagoland
  • 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on FOX (1 point race): Talladega
  • 2015 NASCAR Camping World Series on FOX Sports 1: Remaining 22 races

For a look at the complete 2015 NASCAR television schedule, please visit www.NASCAR.com.

The NASCAR on FOX lineup highlights a strong commitment to motor sports, which includes coverage of Monster Energy Supercross, the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the MotoGP™ World Championship, the ARCA Racing Series and, beginning in September, the inaugural season of the FIA Formula E Championship.

About FOX Sports

FOX Sports is the umbrella entity representing 21st Century FOX’s wide array of multi-platform US-based sports assets.  Built with brands capable of reaching more than 100 million viewers in a single weekend, FOX Sports includes ownership and interests in linear television networks, digital and mobile programming, broadband platforms, multiple web sites, joint-venture businesses and several licensing partnerships.  FOX Sports includes the sports television arm of the FOX Broadcasting Company; FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2; FOX Sports Regional Networks, their affiliated regional web sites and national programming; FOX Soccer Plus; FOX Deportes and FOX College Sports.  In addition, FOX Sports also encompasses FOX Sports Digital, which includes FOXSports.com, FOX Sports GO, Whatifsports.com and Yardbarker.com.  Also included in the Group are FOX’s interests in joint-venture businesses Big Ten Network, BTN 2Go and a licensing agreement that establish the FOX Sports Radio Network.

– FOX SPORTS –

Notes from TNT NASCAR Sprint Cup Summer Series – Sunday, July 13, 2014

nascar-on-tntNASCAR Sprint Cup Series from New Hampshire

Countdown to Green served by Sonic

Adam Alexander (host), Kyle Petty (analyst), Wally Dallenbach (analyst) and Larry McReynolds (analyst)

Larry McReynolds on drivers to look out for to win leading up to the Chase:

“I personally think in these eight races before the Chase, we’ll have two more winners, which will give us 13 drivers that have a win that will make the Chase… Two drivers I’m looking at, Jamie McMurray, 22nd in points; Tony Stewart, 20th in points.”

Outtake from NASCAR President Mike Helton joining the TNT crew:

“I join the rest of the industry, and, oh, by the way, speak for the fans, saying ‘thank you’ [to Turner Sports] very much for covering our sport and bringing our sport to us.”

More from Helton on Turner Sports relationship:

“This is about thanking your organization, going back to Buddy Baker and Ken Squier and Dick Berggren, and the first crew, right all the way through to everyone that’s covering this race for TNT [today]. Thank you from a fan’s perspective. You gave us the ability to see things that we didn’t think we’d see back in the 80’s or didn’t have an opportunity to see. In today’s world, with the technology and everything that you brought to us, the personality and character, today’s our day to say thank you.”

TNT reporter Chris Neville with No. 2 Brad Keselowski, on whether today’s car is as dominant as the one he had in Kentucky:

“It’s hard to know, Chris… The Redd’s Apple Ford Fusion was extremely fast in practice. But we’ve been that way a couple races this year, and only really in Kentucky have we been able to carry that over… I’m very, very optimistic and proud of the efforts so far this weekend.”

Kyle Petty reflecting on the end of 32 years of NASCAR on Turner Sports:

“All these people behind the cameras… they’re the ones that put the show on. We’re just blessed to be the face of it.”

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TNT NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from New Hampshire

Adam Alexander (host), Wally Dallenbach (analyst), Kyle Petty (analyst), Larry McReynolds (analyst) and pit reporters Chris Neville, Ralph Sheheen, Marty Snider, Matt Yocum

Petty on No. 48 Jimmie Johnson’s tire issues early in the race:

“These guys have won so many races, and yeah they can gamble, you take that, but you know what, after you have that issue three or four laps into the race, you would think you would be safe. Let me put some air in this thing, just be safe, get me to the first stop, the first green flag stop or regular stop and let’s see where we’re at.”

Outtake from TNT reporter Snider’s interview with No. 48 Johnson on his car’s tire issues early in the race:

“We’ll try to dig in it and learn more, but I can promise you one thing, it wasn’t the tire pressure. I’ve been out here two days running around and haven’t had a flat.”

Petty on No. 4 Kevin Harvick and his team:

“Since we were at Daytona in February, these guys, Kevin Harvick and that team, have been the top two or three fastest cars at every practice, every weekend, every qualifying session, it seems like, and had a shot at winning multiple races. And it’s well documented the pit road issues that they’ve had, that have kept them from winning more races this year.”

Outtake from TNT reporter Snider’s interview with No. 40 Joey Logano:

“Slowest car on the race track took us out, go figure. We had a pretty good AutoTrader Ford. We were just doing what we could to hang in there. We were obviously running second, Brad [Keselowski] is really, really fast, he’s got the car to beat right now… [I] felt like we could have a Penske one-two [finish] again and, to get taken out by the slowest car, [I] feel like there should be a driver’s test before you get out in a Cup car and make sure you know how to drive before you drive one, but I don’t know, guess there isn’t.”

Dallenbach on No. 2 Brad Keselowski:

“Brad [Keselowski] has been about two or three tenths of a second faster than everybody… and now that things have stabilized, he’s still that much faster than everybody else.”

McReynolds on the Toyota Test Car employed during NASCAR coverage on TNT:

“We’ve taken you places hopefully that you have not seen before, from the inspection process we did at Michigan, for a pit stop last week at Daytona, in the rain I might add. I know it’s been fun for me and I hope the fans have truly enjoyed everything we’ve done with this Toyota Camry Test Car this year.”

No. 2 Brad Keselowski on winning at New Hampshire and the success of the Penske team:
“It’s a privilege to have cars like this, and a team that’s just clicking. I guess you can say we’re red hot. It’s a thrill, I can’t believe it, [to] win both races. I thought we’d be pretty good here at Loudon. We’ve been really good here the last few years, but just haven’t been able to close out. And today we were able to do that.”

Adam Alexander wrapping up Turner Sports’ final NASCAR race on TNT:

“We’re laughing. What a fitting way for us to wrap it up because everyone says to us, about our coverage, ‘it seems like you have a great time,’ and I think each and every week we do.”

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Notes from TNT NASCAR Sprint Cup Summer Series – Sunday, July 6, 2014

nascar-on-tntNotes from TNT NASCAR Sprint Cup Summer Series – Sunday, July 6, 2014

Coke Zero 400 at Daytona Powered by Coca-Cola

TNT will conclude its NASCAR Sprint Cup Summer Series coverage Sunday, July 13, at 1 p.m. ET from New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. TNT’s Countdown to Green served by Sonic will precede race coverage at 12 p.m.

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Countdown to Green served by Sonic Adam Alexander (host), Kyle Petty (analyst), Wally Dallenbach (analyst) and Larry McReynolds (analyst)

Wally Dallenbach on racing at Daytona in the summer vs. February:

“It is tougher because the track is usually a lot more slippery so you are moving around a lot…there is a lack of grip.”

Kyle Petty on the importance of the spotter at Daytona:

“You want that calming voice…you want to know (where the other drivers are on the track).  It’s not like when I drove…you can’t move around a lot (in the car and get a good feel).  You depend on the spotter to let you know when someone is inside and outside…the most important thing is, they help you avoid wrecks.”

TNT reporter Marty Snider interviews AJ Allmendinger:

“We’re building something strong; it’s going to take some time…each week, we get stronger and we’re going to win some races.  But, more importantly, we just have a lot of fun.”

Dallenbach on racing at Daytona:

“It’s a mental race.  It’s like a mental chess game, but it’s a lot of fun to drive.”

Petty on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s chances of winning a championship this year:

“Yes, this more so than any other year because they have that consistency…when you look at the overall status of where that team is, they have risen way up the ladder.  The No. 48 team is still the team everybody is measured (up to) but they are knocking on that door a little.”

Dallenbach on Earnhardt:

“I think he has gotten to a point now where he has a shot at this…he knows, it’s always been a consistency problem with him…and that’s what they are working on and it looks like that is paying off.”

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TNT NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing – Coke Zero 400 at Daytona powered by Coca-Cola

Adam Alexander (host), Wally Dallenbach (analyst), Kyle Petty (analyst), Larry McReynolds (analyst) and pit reporters Chris Neville, Ralph Sheheen, Marty Snider, Matt Yocum

McReynolds on the 16-car accident early in the race:

“When I look at the drivers involved in this wreck, we’ve had 10 different winners in 2014 and it’s been a long time since we’ve had someone new win a race this year. When I look at the drivers involved, this opens the door to get our 11th winner.”

TNT reporter Snider interviews Ricky Stenhouse Jr. following the multi-car accident:

“We had a good head of steam run going towards the lead there and No. 33 pulled up in front of us and slowed up a little bit…[I] got a little bit loose off the corner, got it saved and was going straight for a little bit and then it looked like the No. 24 kind of checked up and moved down, maybe thought I was going to spin it out, and got into the outside of the No. 14 and turned him around…our car was really fast; I hate that it ended this way.”

McReynolds at lap 55:

“There is no question…we are racing to lap 80 [the halfway point, due to the weather].”

Outtake from TNT reporter Ralph Sheheen’s interview with Greg Biffle, following the second multi-car accident of the day:

“I watched the replay and it’s just close quarters racing…right there, [it] was just a matter of a chain reaction.”

Snider interviews David Gilliland following the wreck:

“I knew there was going to be trouble there and probably should have given myself some more room…with the track as warm as it is…handling is becoming an issue and cars are sliding around all over.”

Kyle Busch on the accident, which left his car upside down:

“It felt like a slow carnival ride.”

Danica Patrick during the rain caution following lap 112:

“The car is fast. It’s just been a matter of attrition and being a little lucky and making it through things.  We’ve been in two crashes and the car has been ok to keep going…we’ve been really fortunate from that perspective…here we are though with less than 50 to go and there’s only now 13 or 14 cars on the lead lap.”

Kyle Petty on the significance of No. 43 potentially taking the checkered flag on the 30th anniversary of Richard Petty winning his 200th race [during the last rain caution]:

“He always loved this place…it would mean so much, with my mother’s passing this year, with so much going on, this would mean a lot to him.”

[Race called due to prolonged weather delays and became official]

No. 43 Aric Almirola on winning the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona:

“To get this [car] into victory lane today, 30 years to the weekend that Richard Petty won his 200th win, is really really special…I’ll take them any way we can get them…this race team deserves to be in the Chase.

“I’ve said time and time again how bad I want to win here. This is my home race, two hours away from Tampa, Florida, and I grew up sitting in those grand stands…dreaming about what it would be like to race here and I just took the 43 car to victory lane at Daytona.”

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TNT’s 2014 NASCAR Summer Series Coverage Continues with the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona Powered by Coca-Cola on Saturday, July 5, at 7:30 p.m. ET

nascar-on-tntPre-Race Coverage Includes Behind-the-Scenes Access with AJ Allmendinger and his No. 47 Team

Turner Sports continues its exclusive coverage of the 2014 NASCAR Summer Series with the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona Powered by Coca-Cola from Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, July 5, at 7:30 p.m. ET.  The network will present the final 30 laps of the primetime race without commercial interruption courtesy of sponsors Coke Zero and Sprint.  TNT’s NASCAR Summer Series coverage will begin with the pre-race Countdown to Green served by Sonic at 6:30 p.m.

Adam Alexander will call the race and host the studio show alongside analysts Kyle Petty, Wally Dallenbach and Larry McReynolds. In addition, veteran reporters Ralph Sheheen, Marty Snider, Matt Yocum and Chris Neville will patrol pit road.

TNT’s Countdown to Green served by Sonic will feature all-access coverage of AJ Allmendinger leading up to Daytona, along with an interview with Danica Patrick. Additionally, Sheheen will catch up with No. 24 Jeff Gordon and his stepfather at Daytona International Speedway about Gordon’s career and their over 35 year racing relationship. TNT’s Toyota Camry Test Car — a new addition to this year’s race coverage — will continue to bring fans closer to the action in a pre-race segment with McReynolds.

Country music star Lee Brice will perform prior to the race with the performance of his hit single “Hard to Love” shown during TNT’s pre-race coverage.

TNT will also continue to celebrate Turner Sports’ top moments from 32 years of NASCAR coverage with a special thematic feature each week during Countdown to Green served by Sonic.

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What to Look For: Kyle Petty

For this week’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona Powered by Coca-Cola, TNT NASCAR analyst Kyle Petty offers his opinion on “What to Look For…” during the race:

–          “In our sport, Daytona is like Augusta National for golf, Churchill Downs for horse racing or Boston Garden was for the Celtics and basketball …it’s where we race. It is the place. That’s the way people look at it. It’s where my grandfather raced, my father raced, I raced and my son raced. It’s our whole family history. For me personally, it holds a lot of childhood memories. It’s a special place for all race fans.”

–          “All of the TNT races at Daytona over the years have been exciting, with an unexpected finish and an event somewhere in the middle of the race that changes everything. It’s not your typical race. Expect the unexpected.”

–          “I think Daytona in July is so unpredictable that you can’t predict a winner. You might say one guy is fast…but just because you’re the fastest at Daytona in July doesn’t mean you win the race. If I had to pick somebody, I’d pick Matt Kenseth. I think those guys are about to get back on top of their game, and he needs to win.”

 

TNT’s Upcoming 2014 NASCAR Summer Series Schedule:

(All Times Eastern)

Saturday, July 5  
6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Countdown to Green served by Sonic
7:30 – 11 p.m. Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola (Daytona International Speedway – Daytona, Fla.)
   
Sunday, July 13  
Noon – 1 p.m. Countdown to Green served by Sonic
1 – 4:30 p.m. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from New Hampshire

(New Hampshire Motor Speedway – Loudon, N.H.)

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TNT’s 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coverage Continues with Toyota/SaveMart 350 on Sunday, June 22, at 3 p.m. ET

 nascar-on-tnt

Pre-Race Coverage Includes Behind-the-Scenes Access with Marcos Ambrose

Turner Sports continues its 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Summer Series coverage with the Toyota/SaveMart 350 from Sonoma Raceway on Sunday, June 22, at 3 p.m. ET.  TNT’s NASCAR Summer Series coverage will begin with the pre-race Countdown to Green served by Sonic at 2 p.m. Adam Alexander will call the race and host the studio show alongside analysts Kyle Petty, Wally Dallenbach and Larry McReynolds. In addition, veteran reporters Ralph Sheheen, Marty Snider, Matt Yocum and Chris Neville will patrol pit road.

TNT’s Countdown to Green served by Sonic will feature all-access coverage of Marcos Ambrose leading up to Sonoma, along with an interview with Kevin Harvick. Additionally, the Toyota Camry Test Car — a new addition to this year’s race coverage — will continue to bring fans closer to the action on race day. Dallenbach will take the car on the track to highlight elements of the road course, while McReynolds will put his crew chief hat on for a pre-race segment.

Throughout the NASCAR Summer Series, TNT will celebrate Turner Sports’ top moments from 32 years of NASCAR coverage with a special thematic feature each week during Countdown to Green served by Sonic.

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What to Look For: Ralph Sheheen

For this week’s Toyota/SaveMart 350, TNT NASCAR veteran reporter Ralph Sheheen offers his opinion on “What to Look For…” during the race:

–          “What I love about Sonoma is that it’s a very aggressive race. It has become a very physical race behind the wheel, with drivers leaning on each other quite a bit, bumping and banging, with a lot of torn up sheet metal and hurt feelings at the end of the day. So as a race fan, that is something I love. I know the drivers really look forward to it. That’s what has become the image of what to expect at Sonoma each and every year…and boy they haven’t let us down lately.”

–          “Because of the new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format, where you really have to win to get in, there are some drivers who are going to see this as a golden opportunity to get themselves in the door…guys who feel like they are really good road course racers. There are some drivers who maybe feel like they’ve been denied the last couple of years and have missed out on that opportunity to win, such as No. 9 Marcos Ambrose. This is an opportunity for those drivers to really get up on the wheel and get the job done and maybe get themselves in the chase.”

–          “I think this year’s race is going to be even more aggressive than it has in years past. My prediction is, who do you think is the hungriest? That is the guy who is probably going to be the most aggressive.”

 

TNT’s Upcoming 2014 NASCAR Summer Series Schedule:

(All Times Eastern)

Sunday, June 22  
2 – 3 p.m. Countdown to Green served by Sonic
3 – 6:30 p.m. Toyota/SaveMart 350 (Sonoma Raceway – Sonoma, Calif.)
 
Saturday, June 28  
6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Countdown to Green served by Sonic
7:30 – 11 p.m. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from Kentucky presented by KFC (Kentucky Speedway – Sparta, Ky.)
 
Saturday, July 5  
6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Countdown to Green served by Sonic
7:30 – 11 p.m. Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola (Daytona International Speedway – Daytona, Fla.)
   
Sunday, July 13  
Noon – 1 p.m. Countdown to Green served by Sonic
1 – 4:30 p.m. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from New Hampshire

(New Hampshire Motor Speedway – Loudon, N.H.)

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Notes from TNT NASCAR Sprint Cup Summer Series – Sunday, June 8, 2014

nascar-on-tntNotes from TNT NASCAR Sprint Cup Summer Series – Sunday, June 8, 2014

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from Pocono presented by the Dodge Charger

TNT will continue its NASCAR Sprint Cup Summer Series coverage on Sunday, June 15, at 1 p.m. ET with the Quicken Loans 400 from the Michigan International Speedway. TNT’s Countdown to Green served by Sonic will precede race coverage at Noon.

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Countdown to Green served by Sonic
Adam Alexander (host), Kyle Petty (analyst), Wally Dallenbach (analyst) and Larry McReynolds (analyst)

TNT Reporter Ralph Sheheen interviews No. 48 Jimmie Johnson on his approach leading to the Chase:  “You have to be aggressive. This garage area is so competitive that what is working now there is no guarantee that it will work in August. You ideally hope you peak when the Chase starts but we all have to keep working hard and see where we end up.”

Sheheen interviews No. 11. Denny Hamlin on his success at Pocono: “Since the repave, we haven’t been quiet as strong but we still had some pretty solid runs. Obviously we haven’t gotten a pole since 2006, when we won the race. Hopefully this is a good sign that things are heading in the right direction for us.”

Dallenbach on Jeff Gordon: “I think the win in Kansas and some of the runs he’s had is refreshing for him.  A lot of people are saying he’s going to retire because of his back. He’s having as much fun now as he had for a long time. He gets around this place pretty good.”

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TNT NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing — Nascar Sprint Cup Series from Pocono presented by the Dodge Charger

Adam Alexander (host), Wally Dallenbach (analyst), Kyle Petty (analyst), pit reporters Chris Neville, Ralph Sheheen, Marty Snider, Matt Yocum
Petty on the strategy to attack the track at Pocono: “It is incredible smooth. The last time I was here you had the rough surface. It is a very technical race track and you have to hit your marks and, from a driver’s point of view, that’s all you can do – hit your marks and do the best you can. Pit strategy will play out.”

Dallenbach on the advantage to win at Pocono: “Pocono is a horsepower race track. I think you need a lot of engine here. The Hendrick Motorsports have an edge over everyone else. I think when it comes down to the end of the race, the horsepower is going to shine.”

Petty on Pocono on the fifth lap: “Track position is so important here. It is really hard to make ground early in a race. This is not a Charlotte or a Texas, a place where you visually see someone making massive progress. Pick them off one at a time, run your lap times and get position to pass them…that’s more important at this point in the race.”

Petty on Kasey Kahne and his car not being where he wants it to be: “I felt bad for him the other day. During an interview he did during qualifying, he seemed lost. They’ve struggled and they have been lost finding speed. As they go through this race, he’s at least been able to maintain and climb to the front.”

Petty on No. 48 Jimmie Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports: “You have got to be impressed with Chad and what those guys have done on Pit Road with 48. That’s why they are a championship team.”

Petty on hitting walls at high speeds after the Kasey Kahne crash: “The first hit knocks the breath out of you. The second hit is the one that hurts…the most.”

Petty on the surprises at Pocono: “This race had a little bit of everything. Pretty good racing on the race track, six or seven strategies on pit road. No one knew what it was going to shake out to be.”

****    ****    ****    ****
TNT NASCAR Summer Series – Post-race Remarks

TNT reporter Marty Snider interviewed No. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr, winner of Nascar Sprint Cup Series from Pocono  presented by the Dodge Charger:

Earnhardt on not letting Brad Keselowski get close to blow debris off his grill in the final five laps: “He knew I wasn’t going to do that. I was trying to win a race. We had temperature on our car too. Brad had a better car, I’m owning up to that, but we won the race. It goes in the books and helps us towards the Chase.”

Earnhardt on winning for the first time at Pocono: “I’ve never won here. I’ve never been here (Victory Lane). I can mark this one off.”

TNT reporter Chris Neville interviews No. 22 Brad Kewlowski on his team hitting their stride:

“We are hitting the summer stretch with a lot of momentum. I’m really proud of team. I wish I could have executed better and get the win. Dale and I were pretty equal but he just made the right move at the end.”

TNT reporter Ralph Sheheen interviews Jimmie Johnson on fighting through adversity on the track at Pocono:

“We started deep in the field and then got ourselves up towards the front. We made contact. I don’t know who it is on the 51 car but God was looking out for him today. My car pivoted around him and didn’t hit anyone. I was scared to death I was going to hurt someone. I couldn’t get it done with my Cobalt car but I’m so stoked for my teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr., to be in Victory Lane.”

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TNT Revs Up for Six-Race 2014 NASCAR Summer Series

nascar-on-tntRace Coverage to Feature All-Access Pass and Debut of Toyota Camry Test Car at Pocono

TNT’s presentation of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will feature all-access coverage throughout the six-week NASCAR Summer Series. TNT’s coverage will start Sunday, June 8, at Pocono Raceway at 1 p.m. ET, continuing throughout the summer with behind-the-scenes content featuring a select driver and their team, along with special “off the track” segments and more.

The Toyota Camry Test Car, a new addition for this year’s race coverage, will take viewers inside the car and bring them closer to the action. TNT analysts Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach will use the car for pre-race driving segments on the track, taking viewers into the turns and down the straightaways before the green flag drops each week. Additionally, the car will be a resource for analyst Larry McReynolds during the race as the former crew chief will outline key performance features and mechanical challenges during the race.

TNT will once again follow a driver and their team over the course of the entire week as they travel and prepare for the upcoming race, with coverage beginning when the driver leaves the previous track and continuing throughout the network’s next NASCAR Summer Series telecast. Featured drivers will include Kyle Larson (Pocono), Austin Dillon (Michigan) and AJ Allmendinger (Daytona), among others.  The all-access pieces will air during the pre-race Countdown to Green served by Sonic show.

TNT, in its 32nd consecutive year of exclusive NASCAR Summer Series coverage, will feature six consecutive races – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from Pocono, Pocono Raceway (June 8); Quicken Loans 400, Michigan International Speedway (June 15); Toyota/SaveMart 350, Sonoma Raceway (June 22); NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from Kentucky presented by KFC, Kentucky Speedway (June 28), Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola, Daytona International Speedway (July 5) and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from New Hampshire, New Hampshire Motor Speedway (July 13).

Each of the six races feature a diverse blend of tracks – ovals with three turns (Pocono); the first road race of the year (Sonoma); a long track (Michigan) and a short track (New Hampshire) – which have led to unpredictable outcomes.

The network will return its marquee commentator crew with analysts Petty, Dallenbach and McReynolds joining play-by-play announcer Adam Alexander for each race. Alexander will also host the network’s 60-minute Countdown to Green served by Sonic pre-race show with Petty, Dallenbach and McReynolds. In addition, veteran reporters Ralph Sheheen, Marty Snider, Matt Yocum and Chris Neville will patrol pit road to bring viewers comprehensive coverage and access prior to and during each race.

Fans engaging via social platforms during TNT’s NASCAR coverage are encouraged to use @BR_NASCAR.

TNT’s 2014 NASCAR Summer Series Schedule:

(All Times Eastern)

Sunday, June 8      
Noon – 1 p.m. ET Countdown to Green served by Sonic
1 – 4:30 p.m. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from Pocono

(Pocono Raceway – Long Pond, Pa.)

 
Sunday, June 15  
Noon – 1 p.m. Countdown to Green served by Sonic
1 – 4:30 p.m. Quicken Loans 400 (Michigan International Speedway – Brooklyn, Mich.)
 
Sunday, June 22  
2 – 3 p.m. Countdown to Green served by Sonic
3 – 6:30 p.m. Toyota/SaveMart 350 (Sonoma Raceway – Sonoma, Calif.)
 
Saturday, June 28  
6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Countdown to Green served by Sonic
7:30 – 11 p.m. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from Kentucky presented by KFC (Kentucky Speedway – Sparta, Ky.)
 
Saturday, July 5  
6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Countdown to Green served by Sonic
7:30 – 11 p.m. Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola (Daytona International Speedway – Daytona, Fla.)
   
Sunday, July 13  
Noon – 1 p.m. Countdown to Green served by Sonic
1 – 4:30 p.m. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from New Hampshire

(New Hampshire Motor Speedway – Loudon, N.H.)

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Transcript of Indianapolis 500 on ABC Media Conference Call

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A media conference call was held today to discuss ABC’slive telecast of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 25, beginning at 11 a.m. ET. Participants on the call were ESPN vice president, motorsports, production, Rich Feinberg, along with the three members of ESPN’s booth for the telecast: lap-by-lap announcer Allen Bestwick and analysts Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever. This is the 50th consecutive year that the Indianapolis 500 will air on ABC. A transcript of the call follows:

 

RICH FEINBERG: 50 years on ABC.  For me, that starts with a ‘Wow.’  What a run.  My personal memories of the Indy 500 and ABC’s coverage of it date back to when I was a kid.  Memorial Day weekends with my family, appointment viewing.  Those days it was on a tape delay at night.  To see it come around now to the 50-year anniversary is just amazing.

Our team looks at it like it’s a privilege to produce the Indy 500.  It always has been.  It always will be.  It’s a cherished assignment that everybody embraces.  Our goal is quite simple, and that’s to uphold the tradition of excellence in coverage that’s been established by our ABC colleagues over the past 49 years.

That may sound a bit cliché, but it’s a fact.  We do that by focusing our coverage on the drivers and their stories, their team’s race strategy.  Perhaps the most intriguing thing for the casual fan, that’s the speed.  When you’re talking about cars doing over 230 miles an hour, that’s an off-the-charts number.

Through our coverage, we want to make sure our viewers feel like they’re not only enjoying the race but thirsting to be there.  I look forward to being a part of it as I do every year.

ALLEN BESTWICK:  The history for me, when I was a young kid, my dad had racecars at a racetrack in Seekonk, Massachusetts.  Didn’t get much racing on television then, except for the Indianapolis 500.  That was appointment television for us.  As a young boy, watching this race every year sparked my fascination with the broadcasting business, in particular as I continued to follow, watching Jim McKay, the role he played, the variety of sports he did, the excellence with which he did them, and how much you felt like even though you never met him, he was a friend through the television.

So for me all these years later to get a chance to sit in that seat on this occasion, it’s not just bucket list, it’s beyond bucket list.  It’s a little overwhelming to think about how fortunate I am and how honored I am to be part of this.

I can’t wait for Sunday.  It’s been a wonderful month so far and I really look forward to a great race.

SCOTT GOODYEAR:  I can certainly remember the very first time I went to Indianapolis in 1973 with my father.  It was a bit of a surprise visit because I was racing a go-kart and he surprised me on the Saturday night and said, We’re not racing tomorrow, we’re going to drive all night and go to the Indianapolis 500.  It has been a part of my life for a long time.

Then having a chance to go there as a rookie in 1990 as a driver was pretty cool.  Having some reasonable success there, and now having an opportunity as I have done for many years to be in the booth with ABC is truly a privilege.  When we get together for meetings, there’s a lot of passion and pride to being involved in this race.

For me, I view this race now from the television booth almost like a driver.  There are the super teams that you anticipate will do well, there are teams in the middle of the road that have a good shot at it, then there are teams there participating, if they’re in the top 10 at the end of the day they feel pretty lucky.

The split between group one and group two seems like it’s been shrinking for the past couple years.  This year, smaller teams winning some events, Long Beach and the Indy GP, that might be true this weekend.

Ed Carpenter, surprising everybody.  Neat to do qualifying, see the frustration on the big teams’ faces because they are missing some answers.

Indianapolis is all about the weather literally, the sense of what it can do to your racecar; emotions, what it can do to you as a driver.  That’s just qualifying.  The race is no different.

What I watched in practice yesterday from the group racing, last year practice shows it’s going to have the same thing for this coming Indy 500.  Excited about it.

Somebody asked me the other day, Pick a winner.  I don’t think I can.  I think there’s an honest 10, 12 people that can win this event.  Eddie and I were talking about it.  If you were betting in Vegas, it would be hard to put your money on somebody.  Looking forward to it.

EDDIE CHEEVER:  I dreamed about it as a child when I was living in Italy, I heard it on the radio.  I kept racing.  I was lucky to come here and race.  I was lucky enough to win it.  Now I’m going to be sitting in the booth with two friends calling the 50th anniversary of ABC calling the Indy 500.  I don’t know how it could be any better than that.

It’s going to be a very exciting race.  There’s too many stories to sit down and go through them one by one, so many different possibilities, that I really think it’s going to go down as one of the most exciting races we’ve ever had at Indy.  And when you consider how we ended last lap, the result would have probably changed if the race would have gone another 400 yards, and I expect we’ll see the same thing on Sunday.

Q.         Eddie and Scott, there’s two names that have returned this year that link back to some important moments in IndyCar recent history, with Villeneuve coming back, and Montoya being back.  What do you think about having both of those names back in the field?  Have you heard from fans?  Do you feel there’s a different vibe having them back? 

EDDIE CHEEVER:  They’re two totally different types of drivers.  They have been extremely successful in Formula One.  Villeneuve is a Formula One world champion, which in my books is as high as it gets in open-wheel racing.

I knew Villeneuve’s father very well when we were racing together in Formula One.  I remember driving back around in a car where I was doing the steering and — he was doing the steering and I was doing the throttle.  I was never pushing on the throttle strong enough.

I have a great interest in seeing him do very well.  I think he’ll approach the race differently.  He’s with a smaller team.  He already looks like he’s starting to think about how he will prepare himself for those last laps.

A lot of people have gravitated to him during the race.  As the race goes on, people will remember the great win he had not too long ago.

Montoya is racing for Penske.  He’s committed to the series for the whole season, whereas Villeneuve is committed for one race for the moment.

He’s had an exciting beginning, but not quite up to pace where everybody expected him to do well.  He all of a sudden laid down a very good lap on the day of qualifying.

I think you’ll really see a lot of aggressive moves from Montoya early on.  He’s going for a perfect record, having competed only twice.  I really think he has a good chance of winning.

There’s a lot of excitement whenever you mention the word ‘Montoya’ in the pits, even amongst the drivers.  Whereas Villeneuve, he’s going to have to build that back up, but there’s a lot of respect for what he has done.

SCOTT GOODYEAR:  I think everything Eddie said is spot on.  The interesting thing for me is I had an opportunity to spend half an hour with Jacques in the garage area a week ago.  Through all the questions I was asking him, catching up with him, I asked him, Why come back to something that you’ve won, have great memories with?  Why come back after a 19-year absence?

He said, Racing is my oxygen.  I need to race something.  I loved it.  It didn’t really interest me for quite a few years.  But I’ve been watching it for the last year, year and a half, and he said it’s something he would like to go back to.

He said he would like to come back to the series next year and run full-time, if it’s possible.  If this is an audition to get his feet wet and make sure that he can go out and let people know his interest, it may be.  I’m not sure that if everybody is running strong at the end of the day that he has enough experience in these new cars, which he says are different to drive, to be a contender.  I think finishing in the top 10 would be a success for him and the team.

With Montoya, I’ll add to what Eddie said, every driver you speak to in the paddock says that when he has enough time underneath his belt in these cars, from being in the tin tops for the last little while, they’re going to worry that he’s going to be dominating like he was before, from the factor that he’ll be one of those guys you’ll be battling with in the top 3-5.  As.

The drivers say, they have enough drivers they have to contend with.  A lot of respect for Montoya in the garage area.

Q.         Is it good generally for the series to have both of those drivers back? 

EDDIE CHEEVER:  I think it’s phenomenal, exceptional.  Montoya brings a lot of Formula One sense.  Montoya brings a lot of people back to watching open-wheel racing.

Villeneuve, I can’t repeat it enough, was a Formula One champion.  His father was, I would say, one of the top three drivers that ever drove for Ferrari.  The history, the whole amount of energy they bring is tremendous to anything they participate in.

Q.         This is the first time we have a youngster from Nazareth, Pennsylvania, not named Andretti.  I wanted Scott and Eddie’s take on the young Sage Karam, in high school still.  Your thoughts of his challenges, how he might add to the storyline on Sunday

SCOTT GOODYEAR:  When I met him earlier this month and spent some time with him, speaking with him in the garage, nice young man.  At 19 years of age, times have changed, because at 19, I was just finishing karting and about ready to take my first day of Formula Ford school.

We were talking about this on our conference call this morning.  They almost have harnessed him back a little bit because the team says he is very eager to get going and is trying to get so much accomplished in a short amount of time.

As a rookie here, you can be very fast.  But 500 miles is such a long, long time on the racetrack.  I always broke it up into five 100-mile races.  You have to get yourself through it and not rush.

This will be interesting for Villeneuve and Montoya.  It’s been a while since they’ve come here and run this race.  Everybody is anxious.  Seems like it happens between 250 and 300 miles.  Everybody seems like they want to get going.  I always did.

For him as a rookie, he’s going to have to be throttled back, have somebody good with him on the radio talking to him, his spotter is going to have to do well.  He has enthusiasm, good looks, an American, so he has a bright future ahead of him.

EDDIE CHEEVER:  Just to add to what Scott said, talent and youth and energy are wonderful things to have.  Don’t really fit in that well in how you approach the Indy 500.  Here you have to have an enormous amount of patience.  You have to be willing to listen to the pits.  You have to be able to pick yourself up from a bad stint with the tires not working or you have some sort of problem.

It will be a great testament to his ability if he can finish the 500.

We saw another youngster last year from Colombia called Munoz, Scott and I were betting which lap he was going to crash because he was almost in the grass, but he made it.

Those things that carry you forward in open-wheel racing on a street course don’t really come much into play around the Speedway.

Q.         Marco Andretti, your take on Marco?  Seems like he can’t get over the hump.  Very close, very much in contention for a good portion of the race last year.  It just didn’t happen for him.  Same thing happened a couple weeks later at Pocono where he had the dominant car all weekend.  Seems like he’s there every week. 

EDDIE CHEEVER:  He is always a threat to win.  It’s his family’s team.  He has been very quick.  His rookie year at Indy was unbelievable.  He lost by the smallest of margins.  He is unfortunate in that he has some incredibly talented teammates.

He’s really going to be judged not so much by the fact that he wins or doesn’t win, but how he compares with his teammates.  That’s a tall order.

SCOTT GOODYEAR:  I would be delighted to see Marco win from the standpoint that I understand what it’s like to come to win this event, but not, obviously in ’92 and ’97 being second, obviously ’95 across the line first and being disqualified.

Regardless, it’s a scenario that weighs on you every racetrack you go to.  It weighs on you when you come back here to the Indianapolis 500.  For him, I’m sure he thinks about it.  I talked to him about it.  He said, No, it’s behind me, I don’t think about it too much.

But you do.  I always looked at it like you’ll get another chance.  I’m sure he feels the same way.

When you get close to the end of your career, then when you retire, and you haven’t accomplished that goal, which is the reason your living, breathing and racing, and your last name is Andretti, and the pressure that’s on a third-generation driver, I would love to see him win.  It would be great for him, his family, and our sport to have Andretti win again.

Q.         Allen, from everything I understand, Kurt Busch is resonating well with the fans and other drivers at Indy.  Have you noticed anything different in his demeanor or mannerisms or attitude when he’s out there in an IndyCar than you’ve noticed when he’s maybe in the NASCAR garage. 

ALLEN BESTWICK:  I think anytime you go someplace and try something new and different for the first time, have a little bit of success at it, you’re going to have a little pep in your step.

Think about how much Kurt has hung himself out there by doing this.  I’ll borrow Eddie’s thought about this.  Here is a guy who is a NASCAR champion.  All the race wins he’s accumulated.  He was willing to put that reputation out there on the line for the world to step out and try and drive a type of racecar he’d never driven before.

I’ve seen nothing but good things from Kurt.  I see a guy who is determined to master it, has fit in very well with his teammates, has dug into the engineering, the aerodynamics, driving techniques, soaked it up like a sponge, acquitted himself very, very well in an IndyCar.  I’m not surprised by that.  We know Kurt is a heck of a racecar driver.

I’m not surprised he’s acquitted himself well.  He’s having fun.  He understands the challenge ahead of him.  He got a taste of the difficulty of that challenge yesterday.  You can say he’s gotten the full Indy experience now.

But I’ve seen nothing but smiles from Kurt.  Why not, right?  He had the guts to put himself out there and try this.  He’s doing well.  He has the opportunity to have a good, solid race experience on Sunday and do something he probably never thought he’d get the chance to do in his life.  I can relate to that.  It makes you smile.

Q.         Eddie, I’ve seen some of your comments in recent weeks.  What are your impressions of Kurt in an IndyCar? 

EDDIE CHEEVER:  I am totally impressed by everything he has done in the car.  Going out and turning into turn one when you’re up at speed, and engineers have told you, Don’t take your foot off the throttle, you’re talking to yourself telling yourself it’s going to be okay.  That’s a difficult moment even in a racecar driver that’s done it his whole life, to be committed to doing that.

He’s been incredibly fast.  Every hurdle he got to, other than yesterday, when he got very lucky and hit the wall at the right angle.  Other than that, I am just impressed.  When he had to go out and do his qualifying run, that’s 230, that is really moving the mail.  That’s fast.  Turning into turn one at 236 miles an hour, and everybody said that the cars were sliding at the end of their run because they were so much on the limit trying to trim them out.  He went and did it as if he’s been doing it his whole life.

He is talented and incredibly brave.  If he digests this last hit he had, it took me a long time to digest, if he can go through that, he’s in that leading group at the end of the race, I would consider him a possible top-three finisher, if he gets through all the problems during the race.  But he’s been incredible.  I’m very impressed.

Q.         Rich, 92 cameras planned.  Why the increase this year?  Are any of those specialty cameras? 

RICH FEINBERG:  The 92 is actually in concert pretty close to what we did last year.  36 of those cameras are on racecars.  We will have this year a complement of 12 different teams, including Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Juan Pablo Montoya, Simon Pagenaud, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Ed Carpenter, all carrying on-camera systems.  All 36 are on track, if you would.

The remaining cameras include some specialty things.  We will have a helicopter cam for the entire race.  We have several ultraslow motion cameras that we have strategically placed around the track.  We have wall cams.  We have grass cams.  We have hand-held cams.  We have robotic cams.  I think we got the place pretty well wired up.

The unique thing about this race, racing in general, is the size of the playing field is gigantic, so it takes more.  We’re always watching multiple things.  A lot of our camera systems allow us to focus on multiple battles on the track to make sure we can document as much of the action as we can for the fans.

It is a very large production, one of the largest that we do every year.  Tremendous credit to our technical and engineering staff to put together this system and ultimately I think our fans are the benefactors of it.

Q.         Are there any other production enhancements planned? 

RICH FEINBERG:  Well, we’ve made some changes since we were at the track last.  I’d start with probably the most noticeable one for our fans will be welcoming Allen Bestwick to the family.  Allen and I have worked together for many, many years.  I know not only he’s excited about doing the project, but I’m just as excited to have him along.  He’s one of the best in the business, and I think our fans will really enjoy his call.

We have some new graphic elements we’re using.  We have some good feature stories we’ll tell before we get going with the race.  As I said earlier, our ultimate job is to tell the stories of the drivers, and to the best of our ability, through the pictures and through the sounds, create that thirst for our viewers to want to be there and enjoy this very special sporting event.

Q.         Allen, you’ve had a very long career in calling NASCAR races.  How does it feel to be in the open-wheel world now? 

ALLEN BESTWICK:  It feels pretty good.  It’s been a great experience so far.  It’s funny because for as long as I’ve been around racing, I’ve spent my whole career in the month of May in Charlotte basically and watched the 500 from afar.

I’ve been at the Speedway, around the NASCAR race there since 1994, so when I walked in the gate this month, it wasn’t a new experience for me to be at the Speedway.  I knew where the gate was to get in and I knew where the TV compound was, where the booth was.  I knew where to find things.  It’s not a completely new experience at the Speedway.

Then I’ve had great support from Rich and my bosses to do the research that I needed to do.  I spent time in Indianapolis in February just after the Daytona 500.  Some of the race teams were more than gracious in welcoming me in.  I went through IndyCars from top to bottom at team shops.  Had dinners and lunches with drivers and team managers.  I’ve had plenty of time to acclimate myself – short way to say it – the same thing done differently.

It’s still an auto race.  The object is still to get the distance covered from start to finish in the least amount of time possible.  Terminology, styles, strategies are a little different.

I look forward to the race.  Obviously it’s the premiere auto race in the United States, maybe the world, every year.  To have the opportunity to call it is a fascinating thing.  I’m more excited than anything because it’s been a great experience so far.  I can’t wait to see what race day is like in person.

Q.         For Scott and Eddie, obviously you have a lot of experience on both sides.  There’s so many changes in TV in 50 years.  Probably what hasn’t changed much is the raw talent that open-wheel drivers share.  What special traits do you think open-wheel drivers have to be able to perform so well in what is basically a road rocket before enormous crowds on prime ABC TV? 

SCOTT GOODYEAR:  I think for me, now that I’ve stepped away from it, I honestly believe that you can be trained to be a very good, proficient driver that can compete at IndyCar level.  But I think the ones that are winning and are just a little bit faster have something different.  I think it might be something that you’re just born with.

There’s been that question for years and years, especially when we talk about different generations of drivers.  When you stand at a road course, you watch a guy like Will Power drive around, even his fellow competitors say that they expect him to be on pole everywhere they go to on a road course.

You go to ovals and see the smoothness of guys like Scott Dixon, and honestly a very impressive Ed Carpenter.  Ed obviously trained hard, not through the road courses, because he’s not that great on a road course, but he spent so many years doing the midgets and the dirt cars.

I think it’s training and then I think you have to have a little bit of a gift.

With that I think I am more impressed now than I was when I was doing it.  When you’re doing it, you eat, breathe and sleep it.  You expect to be good.  You expect to be competitive.  You don’t feel that you’re doing anything different than anybody else ’cause you’re getting up, going and doing your job every day.

It’s only when you step away from it like I have, and maybe Eddie feels this way, you truly understand how different your occupation was when you’re sitting in a racecar.

Our racecar happened to weigh 1500 pounds and have in our day 900 horsepower, now they’re about 725.  And, oh, yeah, as Eddie mentioned earlier, we go into turn one at 230, 240 miles an hour and don’t take our foot off the gas.

The last comment I’ll make on all that is when you’re doing it back then, it seems like it’s in slow motion.  It seems like the straightaways are long, and I guess that’s what I guess they call being in the zone in other sports.

When you’re getting ready to retire, you notice that life is going by a little quicker in the racecar than it did before.  That’s probably the first indication it’s time to go find something else to do.

I know how difficult it is, I know how brave you are when you’re doing it.  That’s the neat thing I think when I watch the cars go around today.

EDDIE CHEEVER:  Having raced for a decade in Formula One, Monaco, Spa, everywhere else, then coming to Indy, I don’t say this trying to make a joke of it, I think you have to be a little bit crazy when you’re racing on the limit at the Indianapolis 500.

It is, I would say by far and away, the most dangerous and most intoxicating race that I have ever been a part of.  When you have to throw a car into a corner at 235 miles an hour, two feet behind a car that’s doing the same speed, another car that’s trying to pass you, do all this and stay away from that horribly hard wall, you have to be a little bit different.

The more time I had spent with A.J. Foyt, Unser, Andretti, there’s a common thread:  they’re all capable of dealing with the danger very well and yet perform at such a high level.

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Indianapolis 500 Airing on ABC for 50th Consecutive Year

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ESPN3 to Offer Second Screen Experience with Onboard Camera Views

Continuing a Memorial Day weekend TV tradition that began in 1965, ABC will air the Indianapolis 500 for the 50th consecutive year on Sunday, May 25. The telecast of the 98th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing begins with a one-hour pre-race show at 11 a.m. ET with the green flag waving at 12:12 p.m.

What began as highlights in black-and-white on ABC’s Wide World of Sports in 1965 has evolved into ESPN’s massive production of the modern telecast for ABC, one of the largest and most complex that ESPN does each year. The production will utilize 92 cameras to televise the premier event of the Verizon IndyCar Series, including three onboard cameras per car in 12 of the 33 cars competing in the race.

The relationship between ABC and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of the longest-running between a network and a sporting event. Weekend coverage of the Masters has aired on CBS since 1956, and ABC has aired the Little League World Series since 1963.

“The stewardship of ABC’s storied history at the Indianapolis 500 is something we take very seriously,” said Jed Drake, ESPN senior vice president and executive producer. “The heritage of this event, and the pure excitement and spectacle of it, are what we look forward to bringing to our viewers every year.”

During the past 49 telecasts of the race, some of the most familiar names in sports television history have been part of ABC’s coverage, led by the legendary Jim McKay, who called the race for 18 years and served as telecast host for two others. Chris Schenkel, Bill Flemming, Keith Jackson, Al Michaels, Jim Lampley and Brent Musburger have all served in various roles on the telecast.

The “Dean of Motorsports Journalists,” Chris Economaki, originated the role of pit reporter and was part of many Indianapolis 500 telecasts on ABC, while former Indy 500 winner Rodger Ward originated the driver-analyst position that was later filled by Jackie Stewart, Sam Posey, Bobby Unser, Rusty Wallace, Tom Sneva, Arie Luyendyk and others. Paul Page anchored the telecast 14 times and before his late night career, David Letterman was a pit reporter on the 1971 telecast.

Allen Bestwick will become the 10th person to call the race on ABC when he makes his debut this year.

“One of the things that sparked my fascination with broadcasting was that appointment viewing of the broadcast of the Indianapolis 500 with Jim McKay behind the microphone,” said Bestwick. “It’s one of those things that attracted me and inspired me to get into the business and to think that I’m going to have the opportunity to sit in that chair – THAT chair – is mind-blowing.”

Joining Bestwick in the broadcast booth will be analysts Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever, both former Indy 500 competitors. ESPN SportsCenter anchor Lindsay Czarniak will host the telecast from the Speedway’s iconic Pagoda while pit reporters will be Rick DeBruhl, Jamie Little, Dr. Jerry Punch and Vince Welch.

ABC’s Indianapolis 500 telecast will be produced under the oversight of ESPN vice president, motorsports, production Rich Feinberg. Shawn Murphywill produce the race telecast and Bruce Watson will direct, while Terry Lingner will produce the pre-race show with Chip Dean directing.

Viewers of the ABC telecast will have the option of a second screen experience through a choice of live streaming video from the onboard cameras on ESPN3, ESPN’s multi-screen live sports network. ESPN3 will carry the feeds exclusively through WatchESPN and on Indycar.com. ESPN3 is accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and streamed on televisions through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Roku.  The network is currently available to more than 92 million homes at no additional cost to fans who receive their high-speed Internet connection or video subscription from an affiliated service provider.  The network is also available at no cost to approximately 21 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers, smartphones and tablets connected to on-campus educational and on-base military broadband and Wi-Fi networks.

Among the features that will air during the pre-race show or in ESPN SportsCenter’s Indianapolis 500 coverage:

  • ESPN’s Chris Connelly tells the story of Tony Kanaan’s lucky charm, a medallion given to him by his mother, shared by him to a girl facing life-saving brain surgery, and returned to him, days before he won the most important race of his life.
  • ESPN The Magazine senior writer Ryan McGee interviewed some 30 current and former ABC announcers and behind-the-scenes production personnel in search of unique and interesting memories of some of the greatest and memorable Indy 500 telecast moments over the past 50 years.
  • Helio Castroneves was the first driver to climb the fence to celebrate his wins, a tradition so loved by fans that he is forever begged by fans to climb in their seat section. And so enjoyed by the racing community that even Tony Stewart couldn’t resist copying ‘Spiderman’. Now he’d like a 4th climb at the Indy 500.
  • A Memorial Day feature: the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier honors those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. And so the sentinels stand guard. Their uniforms meticulous, their movements precise and their commitment unflagging, Every hour, every day, year after year.
  • Former NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch, competing in the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte in the same day, will be interviewed prior to the race.

In addition to television in the United States on ABC and Watch ABC, ESPN also distributes Verizon IndyCar Series race telecasts through a combination of ESPN networks and syndication to more than 198 countries and 101 million homes. Also, U.S. troops serving overseas and on Navy vessels around the world can watch live via a broadcast agreement between ESPN and the American Forces Network.

Timeline – 50 Years of Indy 500 on ABC

  • Charlie Brockman, an Indianapolis media personality who had called the closed-circuit broadcasts of the Indy 500 in previous years, is play-by-play announcer for the first telecast in 1965 on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
  • ABC veteran Chris Schenkel calls the 1966 race telecast.
  • In 1967, the race appears in color for the first time and Jim McKay calls the first of his 18 Indy 500 telecasts.
  • Former race winner Rodger Ward joins McKay in the 1967 telecast in the new role of driver-analyst.
  • In 1971, for the first time, ABC’s coverage of the Indianapolis 500 airs as a same-day, stand-alone, tape-delayed telecast in prime time rather than as part of the Wide World of Sports program.
  • In 1975, Keith Jackson handles anchor duties for ABC as Jim McKay misses the race for the only time between 1967 and his final race in 1987.
  • In 1983, Al Unserand Rick Mearscarry onboard cameras, the first used in Indy 500 coverage.
  • In 1986, after many years of tape-delayed telecasts, the race is televised live for the first time.
  • In 1987, Jim McKay, who serves as host, works his 20th and final Indianapolis 500 for ABC (18 years in play-by-play role, two years as host).
  • In 2004, several rain delays take the telecast to 8 l/2 hours, making for one of the longest single-event telecasts ever.
  • Also in 2004, Jamie Little makes her debut as a pit reporter, the first woman ever in that role at the Indy 500.
  • In 2006, ABC introduces the “side-by-side” format, allowing viewers to continue watching the action during national commercial breaks.
  • In 2007, the race is televised in High Definition for the first time. Also, for the first time, two women work as pit reporters in coverage as Brienne Pedigo joins Jamie Little in the pits.
  • In 2011, ESPN and Indianapolis Motor Speedway announce a new six-year agreement to begin in 2013 to keep the Indianapolis 500 on ABC through 2018, including the 100th running in 2016, and make ABC the exclusive broadcast network partner of the IndyCar Series.
  • The 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 airs on ABC in 2011, the 47th consecutive year the network has televised the event.
  • In 2012, ESPN introduces a second-screen experience to the Indianapolis 500 telecast with streaming onboard cameras available for viewing on ESPN3 during the race telecast.
  • In 2013, ESPN SportsCenter anchor Lindsay Czarniak becomes the first woman to host ABC’s Indianapolis 500 telecast.

Indianapolis 500 lap-by-lap announcers on ABC

(1965-2014)

1965 – Charlie Brockman

1966 – Chris Schenkel

1967-1974 – Jim McKay

1975 – Keith Jackson

1976-1985 – Jim McKay

1986-1987 – Jim Lampley

1988-1998 – Paul Page

1999-2001 – Bob Jenkins

2002-2004 – Paul Page

2005 – Todd Harris

2006 – 2013 – Marty Reid

2014 – Allen Bestwick

Summary:

Jim McKay – 18 years (two additional years as host)

Paul Page – 14 years

Marty Reid – 8 years

Bob Jenkins – 3 years

Jim Lampley – 2 years

Charlie Brockman, Todd Harris, Keith Jackson, Chris Schenkel – 1 year

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