The schedule for the 2012 Firestone Indy Lights season will be a little different than last year in ways better and worse.
For starters, the entire Lights schedule will air on the NBC Sports Network, formerly Versus, but on a tape-delay basis. The lone exception is the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – which airs live on Saturday May 25 (Carb Day).
Today’s St. Petersburg Light’s season-opener will air this Thursday at 5 p.m. EST.
The June 22nd race at Iowa Speedway and July 21st race at Edmonton will have same-day coverage, while nine races – St. Petersburg, Barber, Long Beach, Detroit, Milwaukee, Toronto, Trois Rivieres, Baltimore and Fontana – will also air on the Thursday following each event.
This is a departure from last season which saw the broadcast of only six of 13 races – all on Versus. Stand-alone events like Trois Rivieres and IndyCar on ABC events were not televised.
This is definitely an improvement for cash-strapped Lights teams as their league will see increased relevance and television exposure on the new NBC Sports brand.
From another perspective, 5 p.m. on Thursday is such an awkward time for fans to watch the live broadcast. Showing six events prior to the IndyCar race on Versus made for an excellent lead-in to the network’s prerace coverage. Under the new format, NBC Sports’ prerace show will now have a cold open, making for a less-exciting race day for fans.
But ultimately, we’re praising the decision. The Network has no incentive to broadcast the races at all. They’ve opted to do so because they believe in IndyCar and are attempting to build the network’s identity around it.
Racing Observer Online is already committed to attending the Grand Prix of Alabama next weekend and will provide exclusive coverage at the website and our SB Nation partners at Pop Off Valve.
Upcoming Live Reporting Schedule:
IndyCar Honda Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park (Mar. 30-Apr. 1)
NASCAR Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway (May 4-6)