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This weekend’s IndyCar Series race doubleheader at Iowa Speedway will be Leigh Diffey’s last race on the call after just over a decade, even though there’s six events left on the calendar this season before NBC Sports will bow out on a high with Fox Sports set to take it from here going into 2025 and beyond where they will show all races live including the annual Indianapolis 500 race on free-to-air. We all know he will be calling Track and Field during the 2nd week of the Summer Olympics over in Paris, France in early August for the network, which is a position that is so legendary since he first called the races at a Olympic event four years ago in Tokyo, Japan on top of various top-level races like the World Champs in the past.

Lots more to come when he will be back calling the Olympics Track and Field once again for the 2028 edition in Los Angeles followed by his hometown reunion for the Brisbane edition come 2032 – the time when NBC’s current Olympic contract will be expiring by then unless they renew for a lot more down the track from the last time the network signed their big Olympics renewal with the IOC that dates back to May 7th, 2014. There’s even more exciting news for Leigh post-IndyCar – even though it still hasn’t been made official but close to 100% likely – is that he will be well and truly expected to replace Rick Allen as NBC’s lead NASCAR Cup Series announcer once the Olympics is done alongside Steve Letarte and Jeff Burton. This won’t affect his other commitments such as Supercross and the early season IMSA races when NBC is not doing NASCAR, although he might miss the a rare Cup race or two for the World Championships in Track & Field if required during the odd years.

We don’t know when he will be begin calling the NASCAR races again but most likely when the Playoffs start around September with Leigh getting the promotion. Meanwhile, Rick Allen – who is currently calling the Cup races at the moment – will only keep his Xfinity Series gig for The CW – whether if it’s just the short term under NBC’s production just for the Playoffs or on a permanent basis ahead of its first full-time season next year with all races also free-to-air.

Seems like having a three-man booth suits the network’s style more off the back of good banter and chemistry that Leigh forged with James Hinchcliffe and Townsend Bell in IndyCar rather than the four-man group they’ve done with NASCAR for several years until the end of last season. Then at a time when they’ve renewed their commitment to air NASCAR for another few years not long later but only at Cup level; like the Premier League, NBC would want to go differently without Dale Jr. & now Rick.

For now, things won’t be the same without Leigh calling the open-wheel races at all once he wraps up NBC’s IndyCar coverage at Iowa with Kevin Lee expected to take the baton until the finale at Nashville Superspeedway. He’s been great presenting/calling these races firstly with Formula 1 of course before he got the chance to call the Formula 1 & IndyCar races for NBC at the same time back in 2013 while being the first overseas announcer to call the Indianapolis 500 when NBC had full rights to IndyCar for another few years from 2019 until the end of this year. We’re glad that he’s had one hell of a ride to see it for himself and the wider motorsports community as we can’t wait to hear what Leigh soon enough after the Olympics.

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The big Saturday night of sports isn’t done just yet off the back of the Super Rugby semi-finals weekend and the end of the Australian Swimming Olympic Trials where the Olympics might not have started in France just yet, but there’s an annual Endurance race going on right now in the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans Endurance Race from Circuit De La Sarthe & it’s back on free-to-air 9Go for another year through the first two hours window. Glad to see Nine have the authentic sports logo watermark with the Olympic Rings on it which looks really nice, especially during an Olympic year like this. I hope they can keep on doing this by having the WWOS badge more often like they do to other sports by treating their free-to-air limited LIVE motorsports coverage better should they be back airing the World Endurance Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans next year. It’s been a long time coming since Nine didn’t put the WWOS logo at all for their former SpeedSeries coverage including the previous 24 Hour of Le Mans race last year – despite wearing one before at times two years ago until Motorsport Australia re-took the SpeedSeries media rights off ARG that ended the mixed paywall/free experiment & Seven came back to air the races once again from earlier this year. Seven also didn’t have any issues when putting on their sports logo unlike Nine.

Looking at the race itself, it’s been a Ferrari race so far where one car has been leading up front over the first 30 mins-1 hour before another works Ferrari of the same Hypercar factory team got away with the lead after the leading car just couldn’t hold onto outright 1st on the outside. But don’t forget they’ve got greater competition from the US such as the No.31 Porsche Penske team as well as the No.3 Cadillac while we wouldn’t rule out Alpine as well with Mick Schumacher’s (one of the Alpine F1 frontrunners alongside Australia’s own Jack Doohan to replace Esteban Ocon for next season) No.36 running in between 10th-15th for Signatech. If you wish to watch the rest of the 24 Hour Endurance event, Stan Sport is the only place to see all along until the end of Sunday night. For new viewers, it’s a seven day free trial and if you like it, it will cost you $25 a month.

From there, you can also watch on-demand replays and highlights at any time as well as every other World Endurance Championship race LIVE uninterrupted without having to break away with an ad-break or two at all. Although you can watch IndyCar there in the meantime at least until the rest of this season, but keep an eye out for 2025 as they could end up on Foxtel/Kayo once again since the US rights have just changed hands recently where it’s now heading to FOX from NBC.

We also know Leigh Diffey, who called the 24 Hour of Le Mans for Eurosport last year, will be staying with NBC having called the Indianapolis 500 over the last seven years & he’s still expected to replace Rick Allen for their NASCAR Cup Series coverage as their main announcer after the Olympics is over with Track & Field. His first Cup race full-time would be straight after the network finishes its IndyCar tenure at Nashville while The CW will begin airing the Xfinity Series races relatively early at the same time during the Playoffs with Allen it before the network takes full control at least the next seven years going into 2025.

For now, it’s a Ferrari 1-2 up front (No.50 over No.83 a few mins ago) under wet weather going into the evening, then darkness and hopefully bright weather into the next day where both cars really want to win that one ultimate prize.

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Well, the next IndyCar broadcast rights deal is set to wrap up soon and it looks like FOX Sports will be taking over for the next couple of years rather than stick around with NBC Sports following its 14-16 year commitment that began with its parent company Comcast’s takeover of the then Versus cable channel back in 2011 (original 10 year deal to air the cable races began from 2009-18). NBC has been great all along when Versus became NBC Sports Network a year later and then NBCSN throughout the 2010s before they were able to get the full rights including the Indianapolis 500 off ESPN on ABC towards the end of the decade and into the early 2020s up until now – even though NBCSN ran its course at the end of the 2021 with USA Network, CNBC and Peacock (streaming only) becoming the network’s main sports subscription content channels since then.

Now IndyCar is expected to swap networks by airing all of the races live on FOX throughout the year and free-to-view as well since the network will only be able to show five free-to-air NASCAR Cup races including the Daytona 500 with the rest (nine races) being on cable via FS1 from next year to at least through 2031. It looks like it’s the beginning of an end from NBC as they will be left with the second-half NASCAR Cup races and Supercross/Motocross racing while they still have IMSA SportsCar Racing at the moment whose existing seven-year deal also expires at the end of the year. With NBC losing a bunch of sports lately such as the MotoGP at the start of the year and the Roland Garros Tennis tournament a few days ago to TNT Sports, we wouldn’t be surprised if IMSA SportsCars ends up on TNT’s hands next year – who also has a great line-up of sportscar racing through Motor Trend – like the World Endurance Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans (this weekend).

Looking at FOX picking up IndyCar, congrats to them on picking up a top-level open-wheel series with the most money offered than NBC which has the historical Indianapolis 500 value alongside some great competition on-track. Things won’t be the same next year when it comes to airing the annual Coca Cola 600 NASCAR event after 24 years (2001-2024) but they can continue airing the biggest day of motorsports by airing the Indianapolis 500 event earlier on at midday rather than late afternoon to night. They’ve also aired the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix race in the past throughout the 2000s and early 2010s but that was through the former Speed Channel cable network as it never was on FOX unlike NBC and now ABC these days.

Who will be commentating the big Indy 500 race and all other races throughout the IndyCar season? We know Mike Joy has been commentating the Daytona 500 for so long but it looks like Adam Alexander will be the favourite to take over – who hails from Indiana and also started his media career there – before he made the step up on Fox Sports for a long period of time, having also just wrapped up co-hosting its flagship weekly show NASCAR Race Hub with Shannon Spake following its final 90-min episode this week. We will also expect to see a few people from NBC coming over like Townsend Bell and Kevin Lee but we can definitely see Jamie Little returning home alongside Adam as the one of leading pit reporters. She used to be around at the 500 when ABC was airing the races until FOX hired her to replace Krista Voda after ESPN/ABC lost the NASCAR rights at the end of 2014 & Jamie’s been great with FOX ever since including calling a couple of Truck & ARCA races now.

On the NBC side post-IndyCar, it seems more and more likely now that Rick Allen is still expected to hand over the main commentary duties to Australia’s own Leigh Diffey after the Olympics while staying on to call all other Xfinity Series races at the end of this season including the last few Playoff events on The CW. While it won’t be the same for Leigh to not call the Indy 500 anymore having been the first overseas caller to do for a few years now, but at the same time, he’s getting the chance to be front and centre for the network’s NASCAR coverage. He’s done Formula 1, Rugby, IMSA SportsCars, Supercross and whole bunch of other sports before including being the network’s leading track and field caller for a few years now that began from the previous Summer Olympics back in 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Calling the Daytona 500 would’ve been great since it’s the greatest race there to kickstart the season every year but it looks like FOX is staying for a bit longer until at least 2031.

And lastly what does it mean for its International coverage including Australia? As it stands, Stan Sport via Nine Entertainment Co. currently holds the exclusive rights there that started back in 2022 with every practice, qualifying and race LIVE, ad-free and on-demand including every hour-long race highlights during the following weekend via free-to-air on 9Go. This could have a huge impact going forward as should IndyCar end up on FOX in the US, we will expect to see IndyCar moving back to Foxtel through Fox Sports and Kayo Sports’s streaming service. It looks like these die-hard motorsports fans who subscribe to watch the Supercars and Formula 1 races will be able to watch IndyCar on the same platform again, which is going to be great news without having to subscribe to another subscription service. You never know including Europe, Asia & Africa but this is going to be a possibility with FOX already having a few International affiliate cable channels in Australia, Mexico & Argentina.

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Hope everyone enjoyed the Indianapolis 500 highlights on 9Go this weekend off the back of that last lap battle towards the checkered flag even though it started a bit later than expected due to rain with congratulations to Josef Newgarden on his 2nd straight win for Team Penske Chevy as they will be back broadcasting a bit of the 24 Hours of Le Mans race once again on Saturday June 15th 2024 at midnight to 2am like it was last year. Similar to what we’ve saw with the annual UEFA club tournament grand finals during play, there won’t be any ads during those two hours since it’s also an annual event – which is great news for those motorsport and causal sports fans looking to stay up at night for a bit longer by watching one of the greatest endurance motor races in the world including some Aussies & Kiwis in the mix too. Also, the commentary will come straight from the world feed that we normally hear in each and every WEC season rather than picking one off Eurosport.

Should you wish to watch the remaining 20 odd hours after 2am, then you would need a Stan Sport subscription as Stan has the exclusive rights thanks to Nine management to show the full race including every event of the World Endurance Championship live and on-demand with 1 hour highlights being played during the following weekend on 9Go.

I’m sure it will be another great one to watch during the big weekly sports weekend and the last thing we hope to see here that they should bring out the Nine Olympics watermark since it’s an Olympic year going into July-August in Paris. But even with SpeedSeries now back to 7, I wouldn’t be surprised if they went with a 9Go logo with the LIVE wording on it once again rather than a WWOS or Nine Olympics watermark when their motorsport history isn’t that much for a very long time until in recent years compared to FOX Sports, Seven, SBS and even Network 10 until Stan Sport was a year old going into 2022.

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Yes, we all know Chris Stubbs is back on Stan Sport at Nine’s Sydney studios alongside Wally Masur and Casey Dellaqua with the next grand slam already underway for nearly a week now over at the Roland Garros in Paris, France. That isn’t going anywhere with Wimbledon coming up in a few week’s time (maybe on-site again like it was last year) since he’s freelance having also done a bit for Network 10 a few months ago at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix. Not only that he will be on Stan more often instead of being at Queensland Raceway twice (one in mid-July and another in early August) when the next Summer Olympics will arrive also from the same place come late July to early August. So for SpeedSeries and Australian motorsport fans, they won’t see him for a long while until the penultimate round on the 18-20th October at Sydney Motorsports Park not long before the season usually wraps up at Mount Panorama in Bathurst on the 8th-10th November. He will also be at the next Bathurst 1000 in early October as always to provide the big event action for 7 like he does every year.

I know SpeedSeries is happening right now going into tomorrow at The Bend Motorsports Park in South Australia but it seems they chose to things a bit differently by having a host/commentary team calling from a studio being supplied by SEN while still having a small on-site presence of just a handful of staff and 1-2 pit reporters. As said when Stubbsy is unavailable, just didn’t see that coming when The Bend just came back into life for the first time since 2019 & it would be great if they sent a full group of staff there to celebrate after a difficult last few years on top of COVID. However, I can understand given the shortage of staff and long distance from here – despite the fact that Matt Naulty and Richard Craill are SA based but both had to come over to Melbourne to do the job rather than from the race track. Don’t forget the series has found its progress back on free-to-air/free-to-view all over it following the mixed free and paid content experiment throughout the last two years with most via subscription on Stan and some on Nine when SpeedSeries was really struggling to attract sponsorship back then.

All in all, it’s a tough decision but glad SpeedSeries is experimenting all options in order to keep its free-to-air exposure growing so everyone who is interested can see it – even though doing 1-2 events remotely might be the norm these days like we see with other sports and also other networks given the costs to cover the production side of things & on-air staff as well.

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There’s a whole lot of NASCAR news you need to know including us Australian fans here including regular Supercars followers that is going to be huge over the next coming weeks and months to come. From Shane Van Gisbergen to Brodie Kostecki, two more Supercars drivers are now onboard on what is going to be their first real crack in NASCAR’s premier class next month on a road course at Sonoma Raceway. Then more silly season talk where 1-2 teams are in talks of selling off their charters in midst of a new long-term charter agreement & then if successful, they could still be involved in the sport with another team somewhere else. And one of the sport’s crown jewel races at the end of May during the big day of Motorsport alongside the Monaco Grand Prix & Indianapolis 500 will no longer be on free-to-air TV with a change of broadcasting hands and also a change of broadcasting view too where neither will be available on both TV & cable but only on streaming with a subscription.

Two Supercars racers are now off to Sonoma Raceway in California next month for their first tastes of NASCAR Cup Series Racing

So there we have it with not one but two Supercars racers from down under going Cup racing as Triple 8’s Will Brown and Tickford Racing’s Cam Waters will be racing at Sonoma Raceway in California early next month for the Toyota/Save Smart 350 event. What’s even better about it is that we have the Queen’s Birthday Public Holiday on that day during a Monday morning for most states, which is good news for those who regularly follow NASCAR here looking to take a rare day off & watch the full race with Brown & Waters in it when most of us need to work to support ourselves every day which is certainly impossible.

As per current Supercars affiliations, Brown who is currently racing Chevy for Triple Eight will pilot the No.33 Chevy Camaro for Richard Childress Racing in place of former Erebus team-mate Brodie Kostecki with sponsorship coming from Peter Adderton’s MobileX; Waters on the other hand via Tickford Racing’s strong ties with Ford will drive the No.60 Ford Mustang for RFK Racing alongside BlueForge Alliance backing with the AUKUS connections on it. Yes, Shane Van Gisbergen will also be there during the Sonoma weekend alongside his partner Jessica Dane – who still holds some shares in her family’s Triple Eight business despite moving to the US recently – but he will just be racing Xfinitys as usual in the No. 97 Chevy Camaro for Kaulig Racing. So not required by Kaulig or even Trackhouse to have SVG onboard unfortunately for this one alongside but we can all dream of seeing three Australian-NZ racers in NASCAR even if they’re all full-time together at some point in the near future.

It will be Brown’s NASCAR debut there after he earned great success on home soil such as his 2019 TCR Australia championship season with plenty of wins here and there at Supercars level. For Waters, he can also win Supercars races too many times before even though this year wasn’t the best so far here. However, he already made his first steps in NASCAR at Trucks level recently rather than take the risk & start at the top level with Kostecki and SVG where he made an underwhelming debut at Martinsville (same track he visited last year) last month before he finished 19th a few weeks later at Kansas despite some late drama with Layne Riggs, son of Scott Riggs, who was driving the No.38 Ford F-150 for Front Row Motorsports.

Look out for more Supercars drivers coming to the US soon where we all know Waters and even Brown would want to be at their best every week at Cup someday that would mean more NASCAR connections beyond drivers in Australia & in turn we could see a official NASCAR race here too but that idea is going to be a long, long time away unlike Mexico and Canada. For now, we wish them all the best next month as Brown and Waters will be resuming to their normal duties after this to achieve something that is unfinished business in Supercars later this year before we will find where they will go to next in the long run.

More silly season stuff on mergers with Front Row-Stewart Haas Racing & now Trackhouse looking to take over Kaulig Racing where both would then become four-car teams

Last week, we heard about Kaulig Racing wanting to sell a charter while Stewart-Haas is still looking to sell two charters at the same time but then merge with Front Row Motorsports to create a new four-car team. Now we are beginning to see some legs as Kaulig will merge with Trackhouse so Trackhouse can expand to four cars without having to buy a charter that will cost them $50 million & should the Front Row-Stewart Haas merger be true, Cole Custer would replace the Spire-bound Michael McDowell in the 34 and Chase Briscoe to replace the underperforming Harrison Burton at Wood Brothers Racing in the No.21.

So that means Josh Berry, Noah Gragson and even the No.38’s Todd Gilliland is staying with Ryan Preece being the odd man out whose performances is inconsistent for the most part unfortunately after being given another chance to prove himself in the current No.41 Ford for Stewart-Haas & he didn’t make much of a difference from here. Preece will be good at Xfinity level again with a good organisation or even accept another Cup lifeline at Rick Ware Racing which is going to be highly unlikely since he has no sponsorship. If SHR was to sell these two charters, one will go to Richard Childress Racing in order to go three full-time Cup cars and another would either be a satellite Toyota team in either 23XI Racing or Legacy Motor Club or even RFK Racing if they feel ready to go three cars and hire Riley Herbst who has his own family sponsorship $$$ to make this happen.

Regarding Trackhouse, bravo to Justin Marks on working around the tough charter climate by looking to take over another team in Kaulig Racing in order to expand his empire that would hopefully go even better on-track with a championship on his hands someday like he did to Chip Ganassi Racing three years ago. With four cars potentially coming into play, the No.1 will always be Ross Chastain while the No.99 will still be Daniel Suarez as long as the contract extension talks go well with SVG and Zane Smith coming in to complete the team’s expansion into Kaulig. We could also see Trackhouse enter Xfinity too where the pathway to the top level could be a lot clearer now for youngsters like 17-year-old Connor Zilisch coming in a few years time.

Image Reference: TaurusEmerald via Wikipedia, CC BY 4.0 International

What does it mean for Kaulig should they leave Cup racing? We all know they earned their way from the ground up at Xfinity Series level for many years with Blake Koch at the start before they made the step up over time including their first steps at the top level over the last 2-3 years when the sport introduced a brand new chassis which was the Gen7 model or the Next Gen Car. Yes, they had some moments along the way but now Kaulig is beginning to fade when AJ Allmendinger didn’t want to race on Sundays anymore by going back to Xfinity and suddenly they had to go back to the rotation driver line-up for the No.16 Chevy Camaro this season with no decent replacement drivers being lined up (SVG doesn’t count even though he’s tied under Trackhouse and won’t be dismissed that easily). Well, there is nothing they can do but to quit and give Trackhouse the greater control they need going into next year as this is right for them. Kaulig could still race Xfinity if they like on it own as long as they got a good driver pathway affiliation with Richard Childress Racing but then not so much at the end of the day & maybe see Matt Kaulig getting a board/executive role within Trackhouse. It’s gonna be hard to see them go when the team’s ambitions began to fade despite some good Top 15 results including some towards the front but sometimes you need to either be so serious at Cup level & be in to win with the right drivers & investment or else step aside if they cannot do it.

No more Coca Cola 600 on free-to-air TV next year with steaming-only giant Amazon Prime taking over from FOX

For the last several decades the Coca Cola 600 or the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway has been on free-to-air TV including FOX throughout the 2000s, 2010s and the early 2020s. Although FOX will continue airing the first-half Cup races under the new seven-year contract from next year alongside another full season of Trucks but the Coca Cola 600 race is no longer on the list whose season will end at the non-points All-Star race in North Wilkesboro Speedway instead. Next year’s running from here will be a new era where Amazon Prime will begin its five-race season at one of NASCAR crown jewel races with a completely new commentary team including new signing Dale Earnhardt Jr. & a completely different broadcast view where race fans would need to pay in order to watch the races from their phones/laptops/computers/tablets or via smart TV.

It won’t be the same when the FOX NASCAR crew will no longer be covering Cup racing there at all other than the Truck Series races having always been ever present since 2001. Off the back of their recent decision to shut down their daily RaceHub show, there’s not much they can do other than simply turning up on race days during the early months of the year that still includes the Daytona 500. Looks like they want to go for one last ride whose next contract expires in 2031 at the same time of the network’s expected 30th year anniversary association with NASCAR and then part ways after that from 2032.

As for Amazon Prime, good for them where they will get the chance to air the 600 race going forward that could lift the sport’s broadcast onto a whole new level that isn’t on free-to-air TV and cable whereas the big day of Motorsport on TV from next year would only be the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500. Although we could see FOX stay on a bit longer if they can get the IndyCar rights off NBC at the end of the season and they can continue airing one of the big day of racing with the Indy 500 rather than the Charlotte 600. I guess it’s early days though when the sport isn’t leaving cable just yet for another while likewise with the other major sporting leagues who also shares a strong emphasis on the streaming world too but wishing Amazon Prime all the best with their new broadcast team and a brand new announcer in place soon enough.

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Also this week, ABC Signature has one of their new sitcom pilots being approved to the pilot stage by the Hulu streaming service and it’s Formula 1 related called Downforce with current RB Visa CashApp driver Daniel Ricciardo involved as one of the executive producers alongside Alec Berg, Adam Cortnee, Lionsgate and Temple Hill Entertainment. It will be lead by a female who was suddenly required to oversee the family-run racing team as she will need to make some tough choices whether if she will continue running it or step aside that would impact the future of the organisation and her family’s legacy.

So a it’s bit like Claire Williams taking over her famous dad’s Formula 1 team during the last decade when he needed to take a back seat before it was sold to Doriton Capital back in 2020, which marked a new era for Williams and then Sir Frank sadly passed away a year later. Maybe this might be based on a true story since Formula 1 has grown a lot in America off the back of the seasoned Netflix documentary Drive to Survive over the last 5-6 years. The cast and its format (thinking it’s going to be single-camera) remains to be seen at this stage, having first developed the show when Ricciardo was involved with Hulu a year ago. Yes, he was out of a drive at the time as even though his results this year might not be good any longer after he unexpectedly replaced Nyck De Vries nearly a year ago at Red Bull’s sister team (then Alpha Tauri), he will still have a job within the sport where he’s always been popular with the fans when he raced for Red Bull, Renault and McLaren for many years.

Now let’s see if Downforce can be put into series which isn’t guaranteed but should things go well later this year, we the original airing would be on Hulu sometime in 2025 with the International distribution as per ABC Signature being available via Disney +. Yes, this project also would’ve been perfect for ABC on TV who also airs selected Formula 1 races during the year thanks to Disney property ESPN but they want more new multi-camera sitcoms going forward that isn’t expensive. So best to build a following on Hulu rather than seeing things being unexpectedly axed after a few episodes if they’re really that lucky.

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Image Reference: TaurusEmerald via Wikipedia, CC BY 4.0 International

Since Kaulig Racing struggled to replace AJ Allmendinger full-time in the No.16 Chevy Camaro this Cup Series season, it’s been no surprise that they went back to the multi-driver format like it was two years ago and then they would wanna give it up that early by selling one of their charters or even both with Daniel Hemric being the only full-time driver in the No.31 car.

Yes, the results aren’t that bad sometimes when Daniel scored back-to-back Top 10s in recent weeks at Talladega and Dover other than AJ scoring well whenever he can at the Daytona 500 (6th), Circuit of the Americas (6th again) and Dover I (13th) because he wants to go back to enjoy racing on Saturdays which is the Xfinity Series. However, it seems they don’t have a long-term replacement driver to promote from here with Justin Haley now at Rick Ware Racing in the No.51 Ford Mustang.

I would’ve loved to see Shane Van Gisbergen take up AJ’s spot in the No.16 cup car next year as he would be the perfect replacement from someone who shares the same road course ringer pedigree as AJ. But then he’s tied by Trackhouse who gave him his first steps into the world of NASCAR from Supercars and Justin Marks wouldn’t wanna let SVG go that easily, even though Trackhouse wishes to expand from 2 Cup cars in 2025. Instead, we could see them race four Cup cars where the 3rd car would go to Zane Smith after Michael McDowell just announced his departure at Front Row Motorsports to take up his current spot in the No.71 Chevy for Spire Motorsports while the fourth car will be reserved for the seasoned Supercars champ.

Where we could see Trackhouse buy these charters from? the No.16 Kaulig one looks most certain now and the other would come from Stewart-Haas Racing who is still open to selling 1-2 charters at season’s end. I guess the uncertainty on how the sport’s uncertain future on the way they see the charter system turns out to be a great time right now to use this advantage.

And with Kaulig potentially downsizing to now one Cup car, will see them stay on at the top level for a bit longer? Probably not since their ambitions to run Top 10-15 for the most part seems to be fading away where their best bet is to sell the other charter to Richard Childress Racing also at season’s end to create a 3rd full-time car for Austin Hill next year and then just focus on getting the best out of their Xfinity program just like BJ McLeod’s own motorsports team. Sometimes you would need top quality driving talent alongside a decent amount of $$$ to meet your ambitions by winning races in the Cup Series but a lack of good long-term replacements seems like Kaulig Racing would wanna leave this level sooner rather than later.

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It’s been a huge week of NASCAR news and its silly season rumour mill so far where one driver will be jumping ship to another team going into next year while a major shake up amongst the media landscape is changing regarding its weekly magazine show and the Australian NASCAR connection extends even further where we could see another Supercars driver having a crack next month & one of the renowned TCR Australia manufacturers might be joining the sport in the next few years.

A huge hole to fill at Front Row Motorsports going into next year

Michael McDowell has been outstanding in the No.34 Ford at Front Row Motorsports over the last seven years, having turned from Top 20-25 into a occasional front row to Top 10-15 challenger that saw him win two races including two Playoffs opportunities off the back from the breakthrough 2021 Daytona 500 as well as the 2023 Indianapolis Grand Prix (road course).

Yes, all great things has to come to an end when he will leave FRM at the end of this season but he will be off to Spire Motorsports though to replace former FRM alumni Zane Smith in the No.71 Chevy from 2025 as this is a team who is also looking to improve their on-track presence with plenty of ambition by turning themselves into a Top-10 outfit.

I’m sure he still has a few more years left to offer going into the 40s by fulfilling their wish with the hope of more good Top 10-15 finishes and race wins before Michael calls a day. Who will replace him? It remains to be seen with Stewart-Haas still on the lookout to sell their two charters and then possibly merging with FRM to make up four Ford cars, so Ryan Preece could be staying after all rather than being given the flick this time in McDowell’s spot for the 34. I don’t know if some of the current sponsors will be joining ship with McDowell but I guess they are tied up with the team as sure Spire has their own $$$ to support three Cup cars & Preece would be the perfect replacement who has a great racing pedigree from the ground up. Yes, he might not be doing things too good when SHR is currently struggling but again he can get things done in a good race car.

FOX Sports ending NASCAR RaceHub next month once their first-half season coverage wraps up

It looks like there won’t be a dedicated daily NASCAR TV show for race fans to tune in on weeknights now ahead of the next TV rights deal next year that incorporates a greater focus on streaming as FOX Sports has today announced that they will be finishing up NASCAR RaceHub on Monday, June 11 after 15 years on the air. It first started back in 2009 when Speed Channel was around with Adam Alexander and Krista Voda.

Over the years, Alexander remained as the original co-host all along while several others have came in and go when Voda moved on after a few years & Speed became FS1 – such as the late Steve Byrnes (who sadly passed away in late 2014) & Danielle Trotta (2013-2016) along with Shannon Spake & Kaitlyn Vincie in recent years. It was also a show that welcomed regular guests both past and present including breaking news announcements, interviews, analysis and many more that included the weekly radioactive segment from each race of the season via the in-car radio by several teams.

Gotta say 6pm won’t the be the same for race fans when there’s no reliable source that is related to NASCAR to tune in on weeknights. But again, there will be several networks airing NASCAR over the next couple of years and with FOX only airing the first-half Cup races and still the entire Truck Series season, they don’t have any other choice but to shut it down when there’s NASCAR.com or other streaming-only NASCAR related shows and even podcasts to tune in online going forward at any time rather than being required to tune in at a certain time or else having to set it up on their DVRs to watch it later.

It doesn’t say whether or not if NASCAR RaceDay will be following RaceHub out the door but I guess it will be at the end of the NASCAR season in November with a brand new pre-show incorporating the network’s race day coverage from 2025. It seems that FOX NASCAR’s days has reached its tipping point, who may be able to celebrate its 30th anniversary come 2031 , but then after that, The CW or CBS in partnership with Amazon or TNT Sports will be looking to take their place for the first half season including the Truck Series package when the next round of TV rights come into market from 2032 & beyond.

A bit of Supercars/SpeedSeries NASCAR links popping up lately

And lastly but not least, here’s some bit of Supercars and SpeedSeries links with NASCAR that you need to know over the last week:

  • 1. Current Supercars drivers’ leader at Red Bull Team Australia and inaugural 2019 TCR Australia champion Will Brown is set to earn his opportunity in NASCAR where he will be driving the partial No.33 Chevy Camaro ZL1 race car for Richard Childress Racing at Sonoma Raceway also early next month.
  • 2. We could see Hyundai and even Honda joining NASCAR later this decade around 2026 or 2027 if the sport can add the hybrid element having seen the sport race with Toyota, Ford and Chevy over the last 11 years after Dodge left despite ending the 2012 season with Brad Keselowski as the champion for Team Penske at the time with no other team left to take their place.

It’s been a while since Brodie Kostecki, who had long-term ambitions to race NASCAR, fell out with Erebus Motorsport over the off-season that saw him sit out the first 1-2 races before he was able to race with them again as several sponsors walked out the door including Boost Mobile. It’s a shame that he won’t be back racing NASCARs any time soon at least in the short term. But that doesn’t mean another Supercars-NASCAR link isn’t all over other than Shane Van Gisbergen racing in the Xfinity Series full-time for Kaulig Racing when the Peter Adderton effect via his MobileX backing with RCR still remains strong by asking his Triple 8 replacement & former Erebus driver Will Brown to take his place at Sonoma, which is really good news.

There’s still a long way to go for Brown if he wants to hold on both his Supercars championship hopes and the potential to win the Bathurst 1000 later this year but if he wishes to race in NASCAR full-time at some point, I’m sure he will be given the right steps like SVG in order to become the next Supercars convert to thrive in the US for the right organization. I hope Brodie can get things back on track but let’s hope this off-season saga won’t hold back his NASCAR ambitions too much.

While we saw a number of Supercars drivers plying their trade in the US initially on a part-time basis including Cam Waters lately at Truck Series level for ThorSport Racing, here’s another SpeedSeries related link that could see one of the major players end up in NASCAR in the years to come if the sport is able to roll out the hybrid element to its race cars. Enter Hyundai into the fold who has a great history of motorsport over the last few years such as the World Rally Championship as well as touring cars that extends to SpeedSeries here via TCR Australia. Now the negotiations haven’t even started yet but Ed Laukes is saying this who used to be a senior executive for Toyota in North America & is a consultant for Joe Gibbs Racing.

I can imagine though with Hyundai’s modern approach to their motorsports program, they could really be a success in NASCAR by having a Sonata sedan onboard in Cup and Xfinity level while they can use the Santa Cruz pick up truck in the Truck Series if they like. Usually a team with manufacturer backing requires 3-4 cars but Trackhouse, Spire or Stewart-Haas potentially partnering up with Front Row would be the perfect landing spots should Hyundai’s desire to join the sport is serious. It’s still early days as we still have three makes currently on track (Toyota, Ford and Chevy) but the manufacturer talk isn’t going away anytime soon with the hope of a fourth one or even a fifth coming in to turn left sooner rather than later.

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So there we have it, CW’s NASCAR coverage will now make its debut relatively early in the last couple of races during the Xfinity Series later this year rather than the start of 2025 just to preview what their coverage looks like ahead of a full season slate every weekend of the season going forward on free-to-air. Although in the interim, NBC will help them out with the production and on-air talent until the NASCAR in-house media team takes the baton with Rick Allen calling the races alongside Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte. That means, we could see our Aussie own Leigh Diffey stepping up now into Allen’s spot as NBC’s NASCAR lead announcer when it comes to calling Cup races once the Paris Olympics is over in August – which is the only category the network will keep airing for another couple of years during the 2nd half season until at least 2031. Don’t forget the next IndyCar rights cycle after this season also hasn’t been decided yet as Diffey will call another Indy 500 race for the sixth time later next month and we don’t know if this is going to be his last depending on whether NBC stays there or not.

Great to see NASCAR and NBC granting early access to the CW whose channel is fast growing with plenty of sports happening now on their menu since last year other than being well known for producing tons of scripted content over the years, so NASCAR fans can find the time by tuning in to The CW in order to enjoy watching the Xfinity races without having to pay for a subscription – which is a huge plus since that ground-breaking announcement late last year. If the CW can perform at its best over the next couple of years, then no doubt they can challenge FOX after this for the first half Cup rights from 2032 and beyond. It’s too early to say but again you never know since fans aren’t happy with the way FOX shows NASCAR these days.

In regards to on-air talent, we all know how good Rick Allen called the Truck Series back then when FOX used to have a 24/7 motorsports channel called Speed before NBC gave him the chance to call the top-tier races after regaining the rights off ESPN/ABC nearly 10 years ago. But then he had some criticisms while fans still wish they rather listen to Allen Bestwick, so after 10 years throughout the current rights cycle that is about to end soon – it’s best for NBC to have a change of voice upstairs with Diffey getting a go at the main event races & Allen finding his ground again only in the second-tier races by associating himself with the CW. Allen can also help out beyond announcing within the sport’s media outlet as well as calling some College Basketball games & maybe College Track and Field (he used to be a college athlete there back in his day for his university in Nebraska) for The CW, having also commentated Triathlon too that isn’t necessarily tied up to NBC. Other than that, I do expect to see a whole new group of faces by next year other than Allen on NASCAR’s CW 2nd-tier coverage & sure Diffey will do a great job if officially being given the promotion to close out the Cup season while he can still call the Indy 500.

I wish Dale Earnhardt Jr. stayed at NBC with Diffey as his colour commentator though, even if it’s a two-man booth which would sound so refreshing alongside Parker Kilgerman for the all important selected races despite still having an full-time Xfinity ride. But things change where we will get to see Dale Jr on the air again but via Amazon and TNT from next year.

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