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MIKE TIRICO, DANICA PATRICK, DALE EARNHARDT JR., LEIGH DIFFEY, TOWNSEND BELL & JAMES HINCHCLIFFE PREVIEW 106TH RUNNING OF THE INDIANAPOLIS 500 ON NBC, PEACOCK AND UNIVERSO

“We cannot lose sight of the fact this is the biggest single-day sporting crowd in the world. Nowhere assembles a crowd like Indianapolis.” – Leigh Diffey on the Indianapolis 500

“It’s hard to explain to anybody what it’s like to be there in person on that day…It’s not even close what that race is like in person compared to anything I had ever experienced in my career.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“The energy for me, the passion, is just at an all-time high…They’re back to seeing speeds that are really pushing the limit again. That is the bedrock for me of the Indy 500.” – Townsend Bell

106th Indianapolis 500 Presented by Gainbridge – Pre-Race Coverage Begins Sunday at 11 a.m. ET on NBC, Peacock and Universo

STAMFORD, Conn. – May 25, 2022 – NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico, Danica Patrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and James Hinchcliffe previewed this Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 on a media conference call yesterday afternoon.

The 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Presented by Gainbridge from historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway takes place this Sunday, May 29, with coverage starting at 11 a.m. ET on NBC, Peacock and Universo (subject to local blackout restrictions). Six-time INDYCAR champion Scott Dixon won the pole position and will lead the field to the green flag on Sunday.

Following are excerpts from the call. Click here for a full transcript.

Leigh Diffey on the ambience of the Indianapolis 500: “We cannot lose sight of the fact this is the biggest single-day sporting crowd in the world. Nowhere assembles a crowd like Indianapolis.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: “It’s hard to explain to anybody what it’s like to be there in person on that day…I’d always grown up in the stock car world; that world had captured my heart. When I went to the Indy 500 for the very first time, it’s not even close what that race is like in person compared to anything I had ever experienced in my career.”

Mike Tirico: “It’s so great to bookend the month of May with two of the biggest races in America, the Kentucky Derby at the start of the month, then the Indianapolis 500 at the end of the month. These massive crowds (and) traditions that are over a century long in our country.”

Earnhardt Jr. on Jimmie Johnson: “I’ve been really excited for Jimmie…I’m a little bit nervous because he seems to be pushing to the max. Every time he’s on the track, it’s like he is on the edge…But he’s a pro. You trust that he knows what he’s out there doing, understanding the limits of the car.”

Diffey: “We shouldn’t forget this moment in motorsports history of what he is doing…On the ovals, he’s excelling…We have to take the blinkers off and acknowledge what this quietly spoken hero has achieved already.”

Danica Patrick on last weekend’s historic Qualifying Weekend: “It adds drama and excitement to know that we have essentially, I don’t know if it’s considered the fastest field in history, but we have at least the fastest qualifier. I think that’s just great to tell the fans. Speed is exciting to people.”

Townsend Bell: “The energy for me, the passion, is just at an all-time high…They’re back to seeing speeds that are really pushing the limit again. That is the bedrock for me of the Indy 500.”

James Hinchcliffe on pole sitter and six-time INDYCAR champion Scott Dixon: “It wouldn’t surprise me to learn deep down part of what motivates Scott to still be an INDYCAR driver, other than the obvious, is that second win at the (Indianapolis) 500. Six championships in, I know how much a second win would mean to him.”

***

Five hours of live race day programming from IMS on Sunday will get underway with pre-race coverage at 11 a.m. ET, followed by race coverage at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC, Peacock and Universo (subject to local blackout restrictions). This will be the first time that “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” will be broadcast on a domestic Spanish-language network when it airs on Universo and its streaming platforms.

The Indianapolis 500 will be called by NBC Sports’ lead INDYCAR team of Leigh Diffey (play-by-play), Townsend Bell (analyst) and James Hinchcliffe (analyst). Diffey and Bell will call their fourth consecutive Indy 500s, while Hinchcliffe makes his debut as part of the Indy 500 broadcast booth. Marty Snider, Kevin Lee, Dave Burns, and Dillon Welch will serve as pit reporters.

Bell and Hinchcliffe have combined to make 19 career Indy 500 starts. Bell registered a career-best fourth-place finish in 2009, while Hinchcliffe earned the pole position for the race in 2016 and has three career Top 10 finishes. In addition to the Indy 500, Diffey has also been the play-by-play voice of many of motorsports’ most prestigious events, including the F1 Monaco Grand Prix, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

NBC Sports’ complete Indy 500 roster of race and studio commentators includes host Mike Tirico and studio analyst and former INDYCAR driver Danica Patrick, who became the first woman to lead laps and earn a top-five finish in the Indianapolis 500 in 2005. Dale Earnhardt Jr., one of racing’s most popular personalities and an NBC Sports motorsports analyst, will contribute to pre-race coverage alongside motorsports reporter Rutledge Wood, and will join Tirico and Patrick on the Peacock Pit Box on pit road for segments during the race.

Emmy-award winning associate producer and network host Omar Amador will join Indy 500 race announcer Sergio Rodriguez to provide commentary on Universo and streaming on TelemundoDeportes.com and the Telemundo Deportes app. Three-time Indy 500 driver Milka Duno will serve as a studio guest.

This week’s coverage from Indianapolis Motor Speedway continues Friday with the final practice session on Carb Day at 11 a.m. ET and pit stop challenge at 2:30 p.m. ET on Peacock. Below is this weekend’s Indianapolis 500 coverage on NBC, Peacock and Universo:

DateCoverageNetwork/StreamingTime (ET)
Fri., May 27Indy 500 Final Practice on Carb DayPeacock11 a.m.
Pit Stop ChallengePeacock2:30 p.m.
Sun., May 29106th Indianapolis 500 Presented by GainbridgeNBC, Peacock, Universo*11 a.m.

*subject to local blackout restrictions

--NBC SPORTS--