ST. PETERSBURG, Florida – The drivers and teams of the Verizon IndyCar Series are ready to launch their season debut today in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. So, too, are the entities covering the sport.
The race airs live at noon ET on ABC, which is broadcasting five races this season including the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in May. A highlight of the ABC broadcasts this season will be a lipstick-sized helmet camera that has the capability of feeding live broadcast-quality video.
Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden had the camera attached to his helmet for a practice session this weekend on the streets of St. Petersburg, with the video slated for a virtual track map. The possibility of expanding its use in races is on the horizon.
“It’s something I’m really pumped about,” said Robby Greene, president of IMS Productions that provides equipment and personnel for races on ABC and NBCSN, which telecasts the remaining 12 races.
The ABC on-air talent lineup remains the same, with Allen Bestwick the lead announcer and former drivers Eddie Cheever Jr. and Scott Goodyear as booth analysts. Pit reporters are Jon Beekhuis, Rick DeBruhl and Dr. Jerry Punch.
The NBCSN lineup remains essentially the same as well. Leigh Diffey, Rick Allen and Kevin Lee will split lead announcer duties, with Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy serving as the driver analysts. Beekhuis, Lee, Katie Hargitt, Anders Krohn, Robin Miller and Marty Snider will provide pit reporting duties. NBCSN’s first telecast will be for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 9 (4 p.m. ET). The cable network will also provide qualifying shows for the race weekends it covers as well as select practice sessions beginning with the second Friday practice at Long Beach.
Meanwhile, the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network returns its stable of talent mainly intact for 2017 as well. Mark Jaynes begins his second season as the chief announcer for the radio team that covers every weekend session of every Verizon IndyCar Series race. Retired driver Davey Hamilton is the booth analyst. Jake Query, Nick Yeoman, Rob Howden and Dave Furst will provide the bulk of reporting from the pits and turns, with Hargitt, Michael Young and others doing stints as well.
“We have a lot of continuity in our returning talent team across the board,” said Greene. “That’s a good thing.”
The radio network broadcasts all races on network affiliates, Sirius 212, XM 209, Indycar.com, IndyCarRadio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app. Qualifying sessions air on the stations satellite radio stations, online and the app. Practices are available at the online sites and on the app.
Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg race facts:
Track: Temporary street course using streets of St. Petersburg and Albert Whitted Airport
Track length: 1.8 miles, 14 turns
Race distance: 110 laps / 198 miles
Green flag: 12:30 p.m. ET
Race fuel: 70 gallons of Sunoco E85R ethanol
Broadcast: Noon ET on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network