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IndyCar Unveils TV Schedule

| , RacinToday.com Wednesday, January 18 2017

The IndyCar Series and its TV partners announced their schedule this week. (INDYCAR/LAT USA file photo)

RacinToday.com

Continuity and consistency highlight the 2017 IndyCar Series television schedule.

In collaboration with ABC and NBC Sports Network, INDYCAR’s television calendar will see each race returning to the same network where it aired in 2016. The logic behind the schedule is based on continuing to seek opportunities to avoid broadcast conflicts with other major sporting events while giving INDYCAR fans the best possible viewing times.

INDYCAR has experienced year-over-year growth in its television audience each of the past three seasons, leading to a combined 55 percent increase in viewership since 2013.

“Today’s announcement is another key step forward in INDYCAR’s plan of developing continuity and consistency in both our event calendar and our television schedule,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., the parent of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “We’re extremely grateful to our partners at ABC and NBCSN for their collaboration, which has been instrumental in the increase of television ratings and viewership INDYCAR has experienced the past three years and has the series well- positioned to continue that growth in 2017.”

The 2017 IndyCar Series schedule has expanded to 17 races with the addition of a night race at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis on Aug. 26 (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

The season will begin for the seventh straight year with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 12. The race again will air on ABC (noon ET) and be the first of five events broadcast on ABC, including the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500. The race on May 28 will mark the 53rd consecutive year for ABC to air “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” ABC’s broadcast plans also include coverage of both Indianapolis 500 Qualifying Days, May 20-21. 

ABC also will broadcast the IndyCar Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 13 (3:30 p.m. ET) along with the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix doubleheader on June 3-4 (3:30 p.m. ET).

“Coming off of another year of growth for the IndyCar Series, we look forward to continuing our long relationship with the series and the Indianapolis 500 in 2017,” said Julie Sobieski, ESPN vice president, league sports programming. “There’s nothing like the Month of May at Indianapolis with three very different weekends for race fans that culminate with ABC’s 53rd year at the Indianapolis 500. And it’s always exciting for us to restart the year in St. Petersburg and conclude our portion of the season with two consecutive days of live racing action from Detroit. It’s a diverse and vibrant schedule for us.”

NBCSN will telecast 12 Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2017. Its coverage begins with a three-race stretch _ the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 9 (4 p.m. ET), the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by America’s First on April 23 (3 p.m. ET) and the Phoenix Grand Prix on April 29 (9 p.m. ET).

The final nine races of the 2017 season air on NBCSN _ beginning with the series’ “Original Night Time IndyCar Race” at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 on June 10 (8 p.m. ET) _ and concluding with the season-finale, the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sept. 17 (6:30 p.m. ET).

“Our INDYCAR coverage in 2016 reached more fans than ever before, and we look forward to building off of that success as we crown yet another INDYCAR champion on NBCSN in 2017,” said Jon Miller, president/programming, NBC Sports & NBCSN.

Additional INDYCAR programming, including Verizon IndyCar Series practice and qualifying sessions, will be announced at a later date.

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The 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series television schedule, with date, venue, network and broadcast window (all times ET; times subject to change):

March 12 _ Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., ABC , noon-3 p.m.

April 9 _Streets of Long Beach, Calif., NBCSN, 4-7 p.m.

April 23 _Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Ala., NBCSN, 3-6 p.m.

April 29 _ Phoenix International Raceway, Avondale, Ariz., NBCSN, 9 p.m.-midnight

May 13 _ IndyCar Grand Prix, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, ABC, 3:30-6 p.m.

May 20 _ Indianapolis 500 Qualifying Day 1, IMS, ABC, 4-6 p.m.

May 21 _ Indianapolis 500 Qualifying Day 2, IMS, ABC, 4-6 p.m.

May 28 _ 101st Indianapolis 500, IMS, ABC, 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

June 3 _ Raceway at Belle Isle Park Race 1, Detroit, ABC, 3:30-6 p.m.

June 4 _ Raceway at Belle Isle Park Race 2, Detroit, ABC, 3:30-6 p.m.

June 10 _Texas Motor Speedway , Fort Worth, NBCSN, 8-11 p.m.

June 25 _Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wis., NBCSN, 12:30-3:30 p.m.

July 9 _Iowa Speedway, Newton, NBCSN, 5-8 p.m.

July 16 _Streets of Toronto, Canada, NBCSN, 3-6 p.m.

July 30 _ Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio, NBCSN, 3-6 p.m.

Aug. 20 _ Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, Pa., NBCSN, 2-6 p.m.

Aug. 26 _Gateway Motorsports Park, Madison, Ill., NBCSN, 9 p.m.-midnight

Sept. 3 _Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, NBCSN, 1-4 p.m.

Sept. 17 _Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, NBCSN, 6:30-9:30 p.m.

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NAPA Auto Parts will co-sponsor Alexander Rossi, the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion, via a seven-race package starting with the 2017 IndyCar Series season-opener at St. Petersburg, Fla. In addition to the Streets of St. Pete on March 12, NAPA’s blue-and-yellow livery will adorn Rossi’s car at Long Beach, Indianapolis, Road America, Watkins Glen International and Sonoma Raceway.

“Confirming NAPA Auto Parts is the perfect way for us to start off 2017,” Rossi, 25, said in a statement. “NAPA is one of the most recognized brands in the U.S. and with over 6,000 stores they touch every corner of our nation. In 2016 we had historic success together in the Verizon IndyCar Series. However, there is still much more to accomplish. I’m proud to have NAPA back on-board the No.98 and am motivated to carry our momentum together through 2017.”

Rossi joins teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay in the No. 28 DHL Honda, Marco Andretti in the No. 27 hhgregg Honda and newcomer Takuma Sato in the No. 26 Honda.

“We were pleased to have previously announced that Alexander will be returning for the full season and now to be able to confirm that NAPA is back on-board _ what a great way for us to start 2017,” said Michael Andretti, CEO, Andretti Autosport. “Our relationship with NAPA came together quickly during our Month of May program last year and it wasn’t long before the partnership was written into the history books. We can’t wait to add a few more pages of history together.”

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Team INDYCAR enjoyed a successful showing in the 31st annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals at Tulsa Expo Raceway on Saturday night, placing two drivers among the top eight finishers.

Tyler Courtney of Clauson-Marshall Racing was the highest-placed finisher among Team INDYCAR’s 10 sponsored drivers, taking sixth in his first Chili Bowl Championship A-Feature. Courtney, who won his preliminary night race to qualify for the finale, earned $1,000 in contingency money from INDYCAR. Jerry Coons Jr. earned $500 after qualifying for his Chili Bowl-record 14th consecutive Championship feature and placed eighth. Native Oklahoman Christopher Bell won the 55-lap event.

Four other Team INDYCAR drivers reached the B-Feature, essentially the semifinals. But World of Outlaws Sprint Car champion Donny Schatz came up one spot shy of advancing into the first B-race and Dave Darland had a late-race run-in with five-time Chili Bowl winner Sammy Swindell in the second that knocked both veterans out of a chance to transfer into the main event. Chad Boat and David Gravel also reached the B-Feature but could not advance.  

| , RacinToday.com Wednesday, January 18 2017
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