Hulkenberg readies for his first F1 race at familiar Nurburgring

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Coming off of his first points-paying finish in over two months at Sunday’s British Grand Prix, Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg is now preparing for a challenge he has never faced: Racing a Formula One car at the Nurburgring, site of this coming weekend’s German Grand Prix.

While “The Hulk” has been part of the F1 paddock for the last four seasons – three in a race seat, one in a reserve capacity – he’s only competed in his home event when it’s been at Hockenheim, which has alternated the event yearly with Nurburgring since 2007. The last time F1 visited the latter facility came two years ago, when Hulkenberg was in a test driver role at Force India.

But Hulkenberg does have plenty of experience in other categories at Nurburgring. In fact, he was quite successful there while heading down the road to F1, winning in multiple feeder categories such as the Formula 3 Euro Series and GP2.

Obviously, those series are quite different from F1 but track knowledge is track knowledge, and it has Hulkenberg confident that he can enjoy a productive weekend on home ground.

“The Nurburgring is another traditional track with a lot of changes in altitude and good combinations, which makes it a lot of fun to drive,” he said. “Of course, the fans will play a big part and I am looking forward to taking to the track in front of a home crowd.

“Although this is my third [racing] season, I have never raced at the Nurburgring in a Formula One car, so this is a first for me. Overall, however, I know what to expect. I guess everything will be a bit faster and I might perceive things a little different, but I know the track well and I am looking forward to a nice weekend.”

With only six points overall this season – all from Hulkenberg – the Sauber team is likely hoping for that as well.

You can watch the German Grand Prix this Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m. ET on CNBC, as well as on your online and mobile devices with NBC Sports Live Extra.

Al Unser Jr. back in IndyCar after a decade away: ‘Life is very good’

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There’s been somewhat of a hole in Al Unser Jr.’s heart ever since he retired from racing in 2007.

It was a void, something was missing.

But now, after a decade away from racing, Unser has found the right medicine to fill that hole in his heart: he’s back in the racing game again.

No, he’s not driving again (although he does participate occasionally in vintage races), but the two-time Indianapolis 500 (1992 and 1994) winner is definitely back in the IndyCar world.

And he couldn’t be happier.

“For me, it’s a dream come true,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “Since I stepped out of the race car and retired from racing, there’s been something missing from my life, and it’s racing.”

Unser has hooked up with Harding Racing. The team competed in three races last season as a ramp-up for a full 17-race effort this season. While Unser’s official title with the team is “consultant,” he’s involved in so much more.

His main role is as a driving coach to 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves. But he’s also involved in so many other areas, including helping the team obtain sponsorships and much more.

He then added, “I’m involved in every sense of the word except actually driving the car. And I’m happy about that because I’m too old to drive the car.”

Unser, who won CART championships in 1990 and 1994, is now 55. He’s so involved with his new job that he even moved from his native New Mexico and has relocated to suburban Indianapolis.

Not only is it a new start for Unser, it also is for Chaves. After running all 16 races in 2015 for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, he competed in just seven races for Dale Coyne Racing in 2016 and only three races for Harding Racing last season.

But he definitely impressed the team, with a fifth- (Texas) and ninth-place (Indianapolis 500) finish in the first two races and 15th (Pocono) in the team’s final run of the season.

That’s why when Harding Racing decided to go fulltime in 2018, Chaves was their pick for behind the wheel. And Unser was their pick to help guide him to potential stardom in the series.

“(Team owner) Mike Harding is definitely a person that when he decides to do something, he does it right,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “The potential for this organization is through the sky. We’re all working really hard here and we see the potential.”

And as for Unser?

“Life is good, life is very good,” he told IndyCar.com. “We’re back full force, eager and better than ever.”

Click here for the full story about Unser from IndyCar.com.