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Texas IndyCar Race Moved To Big Stage

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, May 26 2020

Scott Dixon and his fellow IndyCar Series competitors will kick off their season in Texas.

FORT WORTH, Texas – NBC Sports apparently is channeling Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage.

Sanctioning body INDYCAR announced Monday the NTT IndyCar Series’ season-opening Genesys 300 night race at TMS on Saturday, June 6, will be broadcast on NBC starting at 8 p.m. (EDT).  Moving to NBC from its originally scheduled window on NBC Sports Network, the delayed 2020 opener will be the first INDYCAR race carried on broadcast television in primetime since 2013.

Site of the first night race in INDYCAR history in June 1997, the Genesys 300 also will be the first Series race run without fans due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But in the spirit of “No Limits, Texas,” Gossage said the 200-lapper looms as “one of the most important races INDYCAR has ever held.”

Reacting to ongoing public health concerns, the race originally billed as the Genesys 600 has been shortened from 248 laps to 200. INDYCAR will run a condensed schedule with practice, qualifying and the race taking place on the same day. Teams are scheduled to take the green flag at approximately 8:45 p.m.

“We’re pleased the daring nature and bold skills of INDYCAR’s athletes will be displayed to a network primetime audience in just a few weeks’ time,” Mark Miles, Penske Entertainment Corp. president & CEO, said in a statement from Indianapolis. “INDYCAR’s first season on NBC in 2019 was marked by significant audience growth, and this marquee broadcast slot reflects both our continued momentum and strong partnership with NBC Sports Group.”

NBC Sports’ lead INDYCAR broadcast team of Leigh Diffey (play-by-play), Townsend Bell (analyst) and Paul Tracy (analyst) will call the race on NBC.

“America has a thirst for live sports, so we’re thrilled to showcase the spectacular racing of the NTT IndyCar Series in primetime on the broadcast network,” said Jon Miller, president, Programming, NBC Sports and NBCSN.

This will mark the 24th consecutive year in which INDYCAR has contested “America’s Original Nighttime IndyCar Race” on TMS’ 1.5-mile oval. The season originally was scheduled to start with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Fla.) street race on March 15. TMS was penciled into the leadoff spot on April 6, after cancellation of the Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader.

“I’m excited about hosting the first live sporting event in Texas, more than anything,” Gossage said in an interview earlier this month with RacinToday.com. “It’s going to be one of the most important races INDYCAR has ever held because people are starving for sports programming, so there’s an opportunity to have strong TV ratings around the country and around the globe. All of us have been waiting for live sports to hit the airwaves.”

INDYCAR President Jay Frye said earlier this month the well-being of all race-day participants remains a prime concern. “We’ve worked closely with Eddie Gossage, the entire TMS team and public health officials on a plan of action that will ensure the safety of our event participants,” Frye said, “alongside an exciting return to competition for our drivers, teams and viewers tuning in from around the world.”

Those steps include strict access guidelines limiting the number of personnel on-site; a health screening system administered to all participants; PPE equipment provided to everyone entering the facility, along with guidelines on usage; social distancing protocols in place and carefully maintained and a revised competition layout to increase distancing.

Gossage said he expects “fewer than 12” TMS staff to be in attendance. “And we see around 900 people total on the 1,500 acres,” Gossage said.

Josef Newgarden of Team Penske won the DXC Technology 600 last June 8 here by 0.8164-seconds over Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport. Newgarden, who scored his first victory on a superspeedway, went on to win his second series championship.

Here is the full on-track schedule for thhis year’s race: IndyCar Series practice, 1:30-3:30 p.m. (EDT); IndyCar Series qualifications, 5 p.m.; Genesys 300 green flag, 8:45 p.m. Live comprehensive coverage of practice and qualifying from “The Great American Speedway” will stream on NBC Sports Gold’s INDYCAR Pass. Race coverage on NBC streams on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

The TMS race will kick off NBC Sports’ second season as home of the IndyCar Series, including the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500. “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” has been rescheduled from its traditional Memorial Day weekend date in May to Sunday, Aug. 23, on NBC.

The second race of the season _ the GMR Grand Prix on Saturday, July 4, on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road-course _ also will be broadcast to a network audience on NBC. A full-season broadcast schedule will be released at a later date.

UPDATED 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES SCHEDULE

Saturday, June 6 _ Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth 

Saturday, July 4 _ Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road-Course 1

Saturday, July 11 _ Road America Race 1, Elkhart Lake, Wis.

Sunday, July 12 _ Road America Race 2, Elkhart Lake, Wis.

Friday, July 17 _Iowa Speedway Race 1, Newton

Saturday, July 18 _ Iowa Speedway Race 2, Newton 

Sunday, Aug. 9 _Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio 

Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 15-16 _ Indianapolis 500 Qualifying

Sunday, Aug. 23 _ Indianapolis 500 Mile Race

Sunday, Aug. 30 _ World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, Madison, Ill.

Sunday, Sept. 13 _Portland (Ore.) International Raceway

Saturday, Sept. 19 _ WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Race 1, Monterey, Calif. 

Sunday, Sept. 20 _WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Race 2, Monterey, Calif.

Saturday, Oct. 3 _ Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road-Course Race 2

Sunday, Oct. 25 _ Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, May 26 2020
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