Sunday, March 30, 2014

Canadian & US Television Broadcast Schedule for 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy

On the streets of St Petersburg, the sound of twin-turbocharged Chevrolet and Honda engines will be brought to life in competition for the first time this year. New drivers, old open wheel stars like Juan Pablo Montoya retuning to the faster form of motorsports, Chip Ganassi cars with Chevrolet engines, Andretti Autosport cars powered by Honda, a new IndyCar title sponsor; 2014 promises to bring IndyCar fans a memorable. Consisting of 18 point-paying events, the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series is something few race fans will choose to miss. Ahead of the start of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series today (Sunday, March 30th) , I have taken some time to provide the following full television schedule for United States and Canadian viewers of the open wheel championship.

A big win for fans even before the start of the 2014 season, all Verizon IndyCar Series races will be televised live on the Canadian and American carriers. The season opener will be shown on ABC in the United States and City television network in Canada. Both channels are non-cable networks that should provide an easy opportunity for most fans to watch the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg. A total of five IndyCar races will be shown on City in 2014 including the inaugural Indianapolis road race in the series as well as the prestigious Indianapolis 500. Five races, including the double race weekend in Toronto will be shown on Sportsnet in Canada with the remaining eight races being broadcasted on the Sportsnet One premium digital channel. Canadians will also be presented with several opportunities to watch encore broadcasts of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series. Races will also be shown on the site for online viewers in Canada.

I would have been much happier to have the schedule posted earlier (as would Canadian IndyCar fans). I sent several emails over the past two weeks to Rogers media regarding the Canadian television schedule for the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series but never received a reply. While the American television schedule was confirmed December, the Canadian broadcast scheme wasn’t released until Friday.

2014 Verizon IndyCar TV Schedule

Date Round # Race Track Race Time (Times are eastern) US TV Channel Canadian TV Channel

March 30th 1 Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg Streets of St Petersburg 2:30 p.m. ABC City
April 13th 2 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Streets of Long Beach 4:00 p.m. NBC Sports Network Sportsnet One
April 27th 3 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Barber Motorsports Park 2:30 p.m. NBC Sports Network Sportsnet One
May 10th 4 Grand Prix of Indianapolis Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) 3:30 p.m. ABC City
May 25th 5 Indianapolis 500 Indianapolis Motor Speedway 11 a.m. ABC City
May 31st 6 Chevrolet Indy Duel in Detroit (Race #1) Belle Isle Street Circuit 3:30 p.m. ABC City
June 1st 7 Chevrolet Indy Duel in Detroit (Race #2) Belle Isle Street Circuit 3:30 p.m. ABC City
June 7th 8 Firestone 600 Texas Motor Speedway 8 p.m. NBC Sports Network Sportsnet
June 28th 9 The Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston (Race #1) Streets of Houston 3 p.m. NBC Sports Network Sportsnet One
June 29th 10 The Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston (Race #2) Streets of Houston 3 p.m. NBC Sports Network Sportsnet One
July 6th 11 Pocono INDYCAR 500 Pocono Raceway Noon NBC Sports Network Sportsnet
July 12th 12 Iowa Corn Indy 300 Iowa Speedway 8 p.m. NBC Sports Network Sportsnet One
July 19th 13 Honda Indy Toronto (Race #1) Streets of Toronto 3 p.m. NBC Sports Network Sportsnet
July 20th 14 Honda Indy Toronto (Race #2) Streets of Toronto 3 p.m. NBC Sports Network Sportsnet
August 3rd 15 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course 3 p.m. NBC Sports Network Sportsnet One
August 17th 16 ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 Milwaukee Mile 3 p.m. NBC Sports Network Sportsnet One
August 24th 17 GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma Sonoma Raceway 4 p.m. NBC Sports Network Sportsnet
August 30th 18 MAVTV 500 Auto Club Speedway 9 p.m. NBC Sports Network Sportsnet

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Surpasses 500K Followers Three Days After Joining Twitter

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

It was a glorious start to the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season for the #88 Hendrick Motorsports team at the prestigious Daytona International Speedway. Piloting the National Guard sponsored Chevrolet SS, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his second Daytona 500 race. His 2014 victory comes a little more than 10 years after his first victory in the sought-after 500-mile race on the 2.5 mile tri-oval.

For users of one of the world's most popular social media sites, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s win at the Great American Race also resulted in victory. Following the #88 Chevrolet race car's streak across the finish line first, Michael Waltrip mentioned that NASCAR's most popular driver would join Twitter. On Monday morning at 2:32 A.M. eastern time, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s official account tweeted its first message. On Wednesday, his Twitter audience rapidly exceeded 500,000 followers. As of Thursday morning, @DaleJr (Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s official account) stands at over 518,000 followers and climbing.

With the message, "Tonight seemed like as good a night as any to join Twitter. How is everyone doin?" and the hashtag, "#2XDaytona500Champ", the authorized Twitter account @DaleJr came online. The first Twitter post also featured a shot of the Harley Earl trophy belonging to the 2014 Daytona 500 winner. Four days since posting the message, the initial tweet was retweeted 16,226 times and favorited 27,950 times. By early Thursday, Earnhardt Jr. has posted 92 tweets through his account.

Showing instant mastery of the high-tech service posting pictures as well as using hashtags, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is already surpassing many long-established official Twitter account operated by NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers. Becoming a social media star in 2012 as a result of some live-tweeting during a race delay at the Daytona 500, driver of the Penske Racing #2 machine Brad Keselowski received a massive spike in Twitter followers. Currently at over 470,000 followers, Keselowski was recently eclipsed by Earnhardt Jr,'s mounting follower count. In a Twitter response late Wednesday, Brad Keselowski posted "I'd say @ is getting a hang of this tweeter ��". With 510,000 followers, Earnhardt Jr. has also passed his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon. The driver of the #88 car is still currently trailing his teammate driving the #48 on the Twitterverse. Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson stands at more than 550,000 followers on the social media site. The NASCAR driver at the peak of Twitter popularity has been IndyCar transplant and highly-publicized female driver Danica Patrick. Days before Dale Earnhardt Jr joined the social media community, NASCAR-related Twitter news broke that Danica Patrick became the first of the stock car series to exceed one million followers.

Before his official account became active on Monday, Dale Earnhardt Jr was one of the last NASCAR drivers to not join the social media service. In 2012, I composed a directory of NASCAR Twitter account noting almost every driver operated with a Twitter handle. Dale Earnhardt Jr. along with Dave Blaney and Paul Menard were among the only drivers in the Sprint Cup series not part of Twitter at that time. Weeks after I posted the list, Dave Blaney has Tweeted under the handle @BuckeyeBullet10 (although activity in light at just 25 tweets in almost two years). As of February 2014, Paul Menard is only of the last remaining holdouts. However, fans of micro blogging channel can turn to his Richard Childress Racing team's official account at @RCR27PMenard for updates.

Update to Story:

Also want to add that Roush Fenway driver Carl Edwards is not on Twitter. Edwards had maintained an active Facebook account but no updates have been provided since 2012.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

California Oval finale for 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series has Power on Pole

Photo Credit: Michael L. Levitt for Chevy Racing

The final event of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series, the year concludes in Fontana, California at the two-mile Auto Club Speedway. Preparing for a 500-mile Saturday night closing of the 19-race season, a championship is up for grabs between two long-time titans of the open-wheel racing series. Also, aside from the fight to be the overall best of the 2013 season, the IZOD IndyCar Series' MAVTV 500 presents a final chance for drivers to add to their year's resumes. A victory on the very speedy Auto Club Speedway would be the ideal way to cap off the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series for every one of the 25 drivers starting on Saturday.

Qualifying using a two-lap time average, the 2013 MAVTV 500 pole was snatched by Australian Will Power. With a time of 1 minute, 5.2247 seconds, Power's #12 Dallara-Chevrolet recorded an average speed of 220.775 miles per hour over the two laps around Auto Club Speedway. Seated seventh in the 2013 IZOD IndyCar points standing, Will Power's year ends with him out of contention for the overall championship for the first time since he began running full-time for Team Penske. It was a surreal 2013 season for Will Power who struggled during multiple road course races (a type of racing the Australian driver excelled in over previous years). Recent wins at Sonoma and race two of the Houston event has returned Will Power to typical form.

Nearly 1.1 miles per hour slower than Will Power, Helio Castroneves still posts a strong time with the #3 Team Penske car. Entering this final race of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series, Castroneves is trailing Target Chip Ganassi driver Scott Dixon by 25 points. Castroneves held the point lead through much of the season but lost it due to struggles in The Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston weekend. The Brazilian is attempting to regain the points lead at the most crucial time. Hunting his third IndyCar championship and first since 2008, New Zealand's Scott Dixon qualified seventh with his Honda powered #9 car.

With the championship at stake, the teams of both Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon elected to place fresh engines in their race cars for the 500-mile Saturday night event. By doing so, each driver will be demoted 10 places from their qualifying spots. Therefore, Helio Castroneves will start 12th in his Team Penske machine while Scott Dixon will be starting 17th in his Target Chip Ganassi Racing supported vehicle. Based on the complexity of long-distance oval races on the IZOD IndyCar Series, starting position in the MAVTV 500 is not considered too serious for drivers and teams.

Returning for the finale, popular part-time driver AJ Allmendinger is piloting the #2 machine for Team Penske. In qualifying, a third fastest time by Allmendinger solidified the organization's quick pace on a two-mile track car owner Roger Penske built and originally operated.

Behind the Team Penske domination of the Auto Club Speedway qualifying, the Dragon Racing car co-owned by Roger Penske's son Jay will start the MAVTV 500 third over a fourth-fastest qualifying effort by Sebastien Bourdais. Posting a fifth-fastest time on Friday, Charlie Kimball driving the Chip Ganassi owned #83 car is starting fourth due to Castroneves' penalty. Tenth in the overall drivers' points, Kimball's 2013 racing effort is a considerable improvement over his previous two years in the series. Also worth of full marks is James Jakes who qualified at an average speed of 217.979 miles per hour for sixth fastest on Friday. Jakes' time was actually identical to seventh place Scott Dixon.  

Won last year by Ed Carpenter (who starts 8th on Saturday night), the MAVTV 500 is considered a wild card event where almost any competitor has a fair shot at winning. AJ Allmendiner, Alex Tagliani driving in substitution for an injured Dario Franchitti for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, 2013 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year standout Carlos Manoz, Pippa Mann and JR Hildebrand returning to the series driving the Bryan Herta Autosport #98 car are limited or one-race deals that could easily pull off an upset against the field of regulars. While the Team Penske cars powered by Chevrolet proved strong in qualifying, Honda won the last IndyCar oval event at Pocono with a race pace that also emphasized fuel economy.

Certain to provide an eventful end to the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series (as well as the final race with IZOD as the title sponsor), the 250-lap MAVTV 500 is set to receive a green flag at 6:10 PM local time in California (9:10 PM eastern time).

Qualifying Results

1. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 220.775
2. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 219.677
3. (2) AJ Allmendinger, Dallara-Chevy, 218.894
4. (7) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 218.513
5. (83) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 217.986
6. (16) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 217.979
7. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 217.979
8. (25) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Chevy, 217.958
9. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 217.932
10. (67) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 217.871
11. (27) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Chevy, 217.798
12. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 217.566
13. (10) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 217.419
14. (5) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Chevy, 217.050
15. (1) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Chevy, 216.898
16. (77) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 216.447
17. (4) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Chevy, 216.213
18. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 216.106
19. (98) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Honda, 215.967
20. (55) Tristan Vautier, Dallara-Honda, 215.207
21. (78) Simona De Silvestro, Dallara-Chevy, 214.679
22. (6) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 213.262
23. (19) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, no speed
24. (18) Pippa Mann, Dallara-Honda, no speed
25. (14) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, no speed