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NBC gets green flag to broadcast Indy 500 starting in 2019

Updated March 22, 2018 - 2:23 pm

IndyCar racing is moving under one televised umbrella. And for the first time since 1965, it won’t feature the ABC logo.

The Indianapolis 500 and the entire IndyCar season will be broadcast on NBC starting in 2019. One Las Vegas native who was tied to the venerable 500-mile race when she and it were property of ABC couldn’t be happier.

“Having been part of the IndyCar family for many years, including 11 Indy 500s on ABC, I’m thrilled to see the series land one big TV deal,” wrote Fox NASCAR pit road reporter Jamie Little on her Twitter account. “Healthy racing series means healthy jobs and happy fans.”

NBCSN has carried other IndyCar races since 2009 while ABC maintained its grip on the Indy 500. The new deal will result in eight IndyCar races being shown live on network TV, up from the five that ABC broadcasts.

The IndyCar season opened quietly on ABC a couple of weeks ago at St. Petersburg, Florida, and perhaps that was the driving force in landing a new deal. IndyCar is expected to become more of a focal point for NBC.

The Indianapolis 500 will be part of NBC’s “Championship Season” of sporting events running May to July that includes horse racing’s Triple Crown, golf’s The Players Championship and British Open, Premier League soccer, tennis’ French Open, hockey’s Stanley Cup Finals and cycling’s Tour de France.

No Acapulco cliff diving. But with a lineup like that, NBC’s world of TV sports is getting pretty wide in its own right.

Still, for those who remember Jim McKay and Jackie Stewart and Chris Economaki in the pits and Bobby Unser arguing in the broadcast booth with fellow analyst Sam Posey, the Indy 500 without ABC might take a little getting used to.

Green, white, checkered

— Riley Herbst, the 19-year-old son of Las Vegas desert racing ace Troy Herbst, climbed behind the wheel of his old man’s off-road Trophy Truck and teamed with Zane Smith to win a 400-mile race at Barstow, California, last weekend. The younger Herbst, who drives in the ARCA series for NASCAR Cup Series owner and former Super Bowl coach Joe Gibbs, returns to pavement racing April 6 when the ARCA cars race in Nashville, Tennessee.

— Las Vegan Noah Gragson is returning to Martinsville Speedway in Virginia this weekend, site of his first victory in the NASCAR Truck Series in October after which he promptly threw up on national TV. “I’m not going to do anything different as far as preparing my stomach — people are always messing with me about that,” said the 19-year-old Kyle Busch Motorsports driver.

— Here are your points leaders heading into the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway from April 6 to 8: Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car) and Bo Butner (Pro Stock). Will the standings be shuffled during the first four-wide drag race in LVMS history? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s going to be twice as fast and twice as loud.

— Las Vegas Motor Speedway will hold a drifting event Saturday and Sunday in the parking lot behind the big oval. Tickets are $15. For more information: vegasdrift.com/event/spirit-of-the-streets-sportsland-tamada/

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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