The 2013 television programming was announced today. IndyCar also announced that in a effort to discourage fuel-mileage racing, the distances of four races would be increased.
INDIANAPOLIS - INDYCAR and its television partners today announced IZOD IndyCar Series television windows for consistent blocks of network coverage and new race distances at selected events.
"The 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series television schedule was created with the goal of keeping things simple for our fans," said Robby Greene, President and COO, IMS Productions, the broadcast arm of INDYCAR. "Our fans asked for more consistency and we thank our television partners and our promoters for working with us to help achieve that goal."
NBC Sports Network will televise the first four races of the season, starting with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg at Noon (ET) on Sunday, March 24. ABC begins its stretch of broadcasting six of the next seven races with the Indianapolis 500 at 11 a.m. (ET) Sunday, May 26. ABC will televise the 500 Mile Race for the 49th consecutive year, extending one of the longest relationships between a sporting event and television network.
Television time continuity, including starts near the top or bottom of the hour and same on-air times for the first two doubleheader weekends, was built into programming schedules based in part from fan requests.
"The biggest point for our fans is they will be able to make INDYCAR racing appointment television," said Greene. "INDYCAR and our broadcast partners are offering the chance to build our audience continuity with more consistency in start times and network."
Qualifications shows for 12 events, including Pole Day and Bump Day for the 97th Indianapolis 500, plus Carb Day activities and race re-airs enhance coverage of the series on NBC Sports Network. The cable partner will continue to air the popular "INDYCAR 36," which follows a driver behind the scenes during an IZOD IndyCar Series race weekend. The full schedule for ancillary programming will be announced at a later date.
All 12 Firestone Indy Lights races will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network, including live coverage of the Firestone Freedom 100 at noon (ET) Friday, May 24 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Eight races will lead into the cable partner's IZOD IndyCar Series broadcast, including the season opener at 11 a.m. (ET) Sunday, March 24 on the streets of St. Petersburg.
International broadcast partners will be announced soon.
Four events -- St. Petersburg, Long Beach, Milwaukee and Mid-Ohio - will feature new race distances this season to discourage fuel-mileage racing. The new distances better match traditional fuel windows at each circuit.
The races with new distances:
St. Petersburg: Increase of 10 laps to 110 (198 miles total)
Long Beach: Decrease of five laps to 80 (157.4 miles)
Milwaukee: Increase of 25 laps to 250 (250 miles)
Mid-Ohio: Increase of five laps to 90 (203 miles)
"Changing the distances at these races will hopefully eliminate the strategy of saving fuel from the drop of the green flag," said Beaux Barfield, IZOD IndyCar Series race director. "That will enable our teams and drivers to race hard for the full distance and improve the event's entertainment value for the fans."
IZOD IndyCar Series