INDYCAR/NBC Sports announce start times for 2022 season, main highlights on it including 0 night races

INDIANAPOLIS — Last Fall, the NTT IndyCar Series announced their schedule for the 2022 season. We knew dates and TV networks but what we didn’t know were times. Now, we do.

NBC Sports and INDYCAR have announced the broadcast start times for the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule, which will feature a record 14 races on broadcast network NBC, headlined by the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 29 at iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with coverage on NBC beginning at 11 a.m. (ET).

The first six races of the season will air on NBC, including the season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding at noon (ET) Sunday, Feb. 27.

NBC Sports will also present the third consecutive year of the INDYCAR-NASCAR doubleheader July 30-31 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, with the INDYCAR race at noon (ET) Saturday, July 30 on NBC.

Highlights of NBC Sports’ 2022 INDYCAR schedule include:

  • The 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 29, on NBC, with coverage beginning at 11 a.m. (ET).
  • The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach returns to NBC at 3 p.m. (ET) Sunday, April 10.
  • The third consecutive year of the INDYCAR-NASCAR doubleheader at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course the weekend of July 30-31, with the INDYCAR race on Saturday, July 30 on NBC.
  • The much-anticipated second iteration of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on the streets of Nashville, and first presentation of the race on network television, will air at 3 p.m. (ET) Sunday, Aug. 7 on NBC.
  • The season-ending Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca will be presented at 3 p.m. (ET) Sunday, Sept. 11 on NBC.
  • A big one I noticed is none of the races will run under the lights this year. Both Iowa races will be run during the day instead of at night which will test these drivers physically. Iowa is usually a very hot 90+ degree day in July with no relief in sight. Now, they’ll race back-to-back days in the heat of the day. Also, the race at World Wide Technology Raceway is a 6 ET start in August, 5 locally, so more than likely this race will run to completion under day time conditions and not under the lights either. Same for a 12:30 ET start at Texas in March. It goes to show that NBC Sports wants nothing to do with racing in primetime and I can’t say that I blame them. Yes, night racing is fun to witness but only the diehards are tuning in. Most people don’t want to be indoors in front of a TV during a summer Saturday night. That’s why viewership is down for these races which is why NBC Sports elected to avoid this potential conflict. Plus, with 14 races being on network TV, NBC Sports didn’t want to buy up an 8 ET Saturday show for only a couple hundred thousand to tune in. That’s not ideal and doesn’t help the series grow nor NBC Sports for their financial decision to pay INDYCAR for exclusive right.
  • Barber, Belle Isle, Road America, Mid-Ohio, Iowa, Nashville and Gateway all have favorable starting times for the fans that like to drive to these races. See, a lot of INDYCAR fans are located in the midwest and I see tons of folks that commute from Indy or surrounding areas to these races. Barber is at 12:30 ET and not a 3 or 4 pm ET start anymore. It’s around an 8-9 hour drive from Central Alabama to Central Indiana. This gets you home by midnight. Road America is a 12:30 start and Mid-Ohio a Noon. You can get to Indy by early to mid evening at the latest for these races. Nashville and Belle Isle are 3 p.m. starts and each will get you “Back Home Again in Indiana” by midnight easily. Same for Gateway which is a 6 ET start too.

Peacock will exclusively stream an NTT INDYCAR SERIES race for the first time in 2022 when the Honda Indy Toronto race will be held at 3 p.m. (ET) Sunday, July 17. Peacock will simulstream all races airing on NBC and all qualifying and practice sessions, as well as coverage surrounding the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, Indy Lights races, race day warmups and full-event replays of 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races also will be available on Peacock.

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