via press release:
Coverage begins Sunday with Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at 2 p.m. ET; IndyCar Qualifying Coverage begins Sat. at 4 p.m. ET
New events from Qingdao, China and Fontana, California, and 16 hours of Indianapolis 500 Qualifying Highlight Schedule
New All-Access Series, IndyCar 36, to profile 2004 IndyCar Champion Tony Kanaan
Firestone Indy Lights Series Returns
IZOD IndyCar Series has seen two straight years of cable ratings increases
NEW YORK–March 28, 2012— The NBC Sports Network’s coverage of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series will feature 10 races on three continents – North America, South America and Asia – including two new events, IndyCar qualifying coverage, Firestone Indy Lights telecasts, and a new half-hour athlete profile show, IndyCar 36. Race coverage begins Sunday at 2 p.m. ET with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama from Barber Motorsports Park.
2012 IZOD INDYCAR SERIES: The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule will include two new events with the NBC Sports Network providing live coverage of both the Qingdao, China race on August, 18, and the Series’ finale from Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. on Sept. 15. The network will also air one-hour of qualifying coverage the day before each race airs and will replay race coverage the following day. Additionally, the NBC Sports Network will air more than 16 hours of qualification events leading up to the Indianapolis 500.
The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series has several compelling storylines this year beginning with the debut of a new car for the first time in nearly a decade. The revolutionary new chassis is designed to be safer and more efficient, while maintaining the close competition that’s been a hallmark of the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Additionally this season, 2011 IndyCar Champion Dario Franchitti will go for racing history as he attempts to match Sebastian Bourdais’ record of four-consecutive IndyCar titles. Should Franchitti win his fourth-straight title, he would be just the second driver to win at least five season titles joining A.J. Foyt with seven national championships in the United States Auto Club. Some of the new talent to watch this year that will challenge veteran drivers are Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, JR Hildebrand, Simona De Silvestro, Graham Rahal and Josef Newgarden.
INDYCAR 36: The NBC Sports Network will extend its all-access 36 series to IndyCar with the premiere of IndyCar 36, Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET, leading into the first day of race coverage. The first driver profiled will be Tony Kanaan, 2004 IndyCar Series winner.
The all-new NBC Sports Network original series is produced by IMS Productions and gives viewers an all-access pass into the life of a world-class driver in the middle of race season. The cameras will follow a driver for 36 hours during a race weekend providing a behind-the-scenes look at the on- and off-track activities of the stars of the IndyCar Series.
The all-access 36 also includes NHL 36, which debuted in December, and Fight Night 36 that aired earlier this month.
FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS: NBC Sports Network will air 12 one-hour telecasts of Firestone Indy Lights beginning tomorrow at 5 p.m. ET, with coverage of last week’s race from St. Petersburg, Florida. Firestone Indy Lights is the premier ladder series for drivers and teams striving to compete in the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. Primarily run in conjunction with the IZOD IndyCar Series, the Firestone Indy Lights schedule features races on road courses/street circuits and ovals, including the famed 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
COMMENTATORS: Returning to NBC Sports Network’s booth is Bob Jenkins (lead race announcer), Jon Beekhuis (analyst) and Wally Dallenbach, Jr. (analyst). Jenkins is a veteran motorsports television and radio announcer, who has served in the same role since the inaugural season in 2009. Beekhuis, an analyst who has also served at the network since 2009, is a former CART driver (1989-92), the 1988 Indy Lights Champion, and a pit reporter/analyst for numerous networks, including ESPN, SPEED, CBS and NBC.
Dallenbach, a former NASCAR driver from 1991-2001, joined NBC Sports Network last year after covering NASCAR for NBC Sports and Turner Sports beginning in 2001.