Hildebrand, Kimball’s MLB squads square off to open 2013

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It’s Major League Baseball’s opening day, and although the hubs of IndyCar and NASCAR are based in cities without MLB franchises (Indianapolis and Charlotte), that doesn’t mean there aren’t some key rooting interests.

Two fairly notable ones are IndyCar drivers JR Hildebrand (pictured) and Charlie Kimball, who are devout fans of two different teams in the NL West.

Hildebrand’s San Francisco Giants are coming off their second World Series triumph in the last three years… and open up today against Kimball’s Los Angeles Dodgers.

“Hell yeah it’s #OpeningDay and @SFGiants baseball is back, against those Dodgers no less. Only one thing left to say….. #BEATLA,” Hildebrand tweeted Monday.

A simpler tweet from Kimball read, “It’s time for @Dodgers baseball! #OpeningDay”

Kimball’s and Hildebrand’s opening days in IndyCar were less than satisfactory. Kimball finished 12th while Hildebrand made contact with Will Power under a caution flag, crashing out of the race at St. Petersburg.

Hamilton leads damp first USGP practice at COTA, Hartley debuts

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Lewis Hamilton continued his impressive Formula 1 record at the Circuit of The Americas by topping opening practice for the United States Grand Prix on Friday for Mercedes.

A four-time winner of the USGP at COTA, Hamilton set the pace in damp conditions in first practice after rain hit the Austin area in the lead-up to the start of the session.

After initially venturing out on intermediate tires, Hamilton made the switch to super-softs at the halfway point in FP1, ultimately posting a fastest time of 1:36.335.

Hamilton’s time saw him finish over half a second clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who he could beat to the F1 drivers’ championship at COTA this weekend should results go his way.

Mercedes got two cars into the top three as Valtteri Bottas wound up third in the second W08 car, six-tenths back from Hamilton, while Max Verstappen ended FP1 fourth for Red Bull.

Felipe Massa led Williams into the top 10 with an impressive lap en route to fifth, finishing ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne.

Vandoorne was left to lead McLaren’s charge after a hydraulic leak sidelined Fernando Alonso for much of the session, limiting the Spaniard to just four laps in total.

Force India managed to get both its drivers up into the top 10 as Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez finished eighth and ninth respectively, edging out Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. who was P10 in his first appearance for the team.

Brendon Hartley enjoyed his first run-out in Toro Rosso’s STR12 car ahead of his grand prix debut on Sunday, taking P14 overall.

The New Zealander had not driven an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 2012, but put in a solid first display in practice, even though his race hopes are set to be hindered by a grid penalty.

Second practice for the United States Grand Prix is live on the NBC Sports app from 3pm ET today.