FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 6th, 2024

NBC SPORTS’ LEIGH DIFFEY, JAMES HINCHCLIFFE AND TOWNSEND BELL PREVIEW 2024 NTT INDYCAR SEASON AHEAD OF SUNDAY’S FIRESTONE GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG

“The track is fast, fun, and challenging – a great first test of driver and machine after a long offseason – and the backdrop is unbeatable.” – James Hinchcliffe on season-opener in St. Pete

“Can anyone in this paddock challenge defending series champion Alex Palou on consistency, temperament and precision?” – Townsend Bell

“I’m fully expecting Kyle Larson to be a contender at the Indy 500.” – Hinchcliffe

“Scott McLaughlin will be a title contender in 2024.” – Leigh Diffey

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – Sunday at 12 p.m. ET on NBC, Peacock, and Universo

STAMFORD, Conn. – March 6, 2024 – NBC Sports’ lead INDYCAR broadcast booth of Leigh Diffey (play-by-play), James Hinchcliffe (analyst) and Townsend Bell (analyst) previewed the upcoming 2024 NTT INDYCAR SERIES campaign ahead of the season opener at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg this Sunday at 12 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock.

Six of the first eight races will air on NBC to begin the season. Peacock is once again the one-stop-shop for INDYCAR fans this season, streaming all races as well as exclusive coverage of nearly all qualifying and practice sessions.

Live coverage of qualifying, practice sessions and race-day warmups from St. Petersburg Friday-Sunday will stream exclusively on Peacock. The INDY NXT by Firestone season opening race will also be presented from St. Petersburg on Sunday at 10 a.m. ET on Peacock. For more information about Peacock’s comprehensive streaming coverage of the 2024 INDYCAR season and how to sign up, click here.

Following are quotes from Diffey, Hinchcliffe and Bell on the upcoming 2024 INDYCAR season:

 

MAJOR STORYLINES HEADING INTO THE 2024 NTT INDYCAR SERIES SEASON

Hinchcliffe: “All of the faces in new places. Only Team Penske has an unchanged lineup, so there’s lots of new combos to keep an eye on. Marcus Ericsson to Andretti Global, David Malukas to Arrow McLaren, and Romain Grosjean to Juncos Hollinger Racing are three of the most interesting ones, for sure. Looking ahead to the Indy 500, I got the pleasure of being teammates with Kurt Busch the last time a Cup driver tried the double, and I was super impressed with how he performed over the month. Kyle Larson is coming in with just as much professionalism but probably even more prep, having done the Phoenix test…everyone is going to be watching how he makes out, and I’m fully expecting him to be a contender at the Indy 500.’

Bell: “Can anyone in this paddock challenge defending series champion Alex Palou on consistency, temperament and precision? I’m always looking at the championship battle between Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing – it’s come down to those two teams the last 11 seasons.”

Diffey: “Can anyone stop the Palou plow? He was somewhat unstoppable last year. It doesn’t seem like anything is about to change – or is it?”

 

WHAT MAKES ST. PETE A GREAT PLACE TO OPEN THE SEASON

Hinchcliffe: “St. Pete really is the best place to kick the season off. The track is fast, fun, and challenging – a great first test of driver and machine after a long offseason – and the backdrop is unbeatable. The entire city and surrounding area really get behind this race and it creates such a cool atmosphere for fans and competitors.”

Bell: “The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is an unforgiving street circuit with fierce wheel-to-wheel battles, starting with the widest straightaway on the entire schedule funneling to a narrow turns 2 and 3. This has made for historically unpredictable outcomes and is a great challenge for the drivers to begin the season.”

Diffey: “It’s a reprieve from the harsh winter and it feels like such a natural place to start the season. Everyone feels good about being by the water and warmer temperatures, and the vibe of downtown St. Pete is truly fabulous.”

 

CHAMPIONSHIP FAVORITES AND DRIVERS TO WATCH

Hinchcliffe: “You would be crazy to not look at Chip Ganassi Racing with Alex Palou and Scott Dixon. That team has been consistently performing at such a high level for so long. But you can never count out Team Penske, and it will be interesting to see if Andretti Global contracting to a three-car team will help it become a regular contender for race wins.”

Bell: “It’s hard to look past series defending champion Alex Palou, six-time series champion Scott Dixon, reigning Indy 500 champion Josef Newgarden and his Team Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin. Another driver I’m keeping an eye on is Pato O’Ward – can he emerge as a series title contender with Arrow McLaren?”

Diffey: “Scott McLaughlin finished the 2023 season with renewed confidence and vigor. He was third in the standings and is now very comfortable in his INDYCAR – that spells trouble for the competition. He will be a title contender in 2024.”

–NBC SPORTS–