Allmendinger, McDowell lead Nationwide practices at Mid-Ohio

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The first public times for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course road course were revealed after the two practice sessions held Thursday for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200.

Three of the top five in Practice 2, where the fastest nine lap times of the day were set, have a substantial amount of road course experience and are victory contenders for the weekend. Road America winner AJ Allmendinger clocked in fastest at 95.550 mph (1:25.074) in the No. 22 Discount Tires Ford for Penske Racing, with Owen Kelly third in the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports and Michael McDowell (pictured), who led Practice 1, in fourth in the No. 18 K-Love Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Parker Kligerman, in the No. 77 Bandit Choppers KBM Toyota, was an impressive second and Sam Hornish Jr. rounded out the top five in the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Ford for Penske Racing.

Times should decrease as drivers get more comfortable with the braking zones and as the track rubbers in over the weekend. In the interim, here’s a look at the fastest times set by the five series in action at the track two weeks ago, the IZOD IndyCar Series’ Honda Indy 200. The Nationwide Series runs much heavier cars than do these others, but it’s interesting to note where they stack up.

  • IndyCar: Pole: Ryan Hunter-Reay, 124.385 mph (1:05.3519)
  • Indy Lights: Pole: Gabby Chaves, 110.851 mph (1:13.3306)
  • Pro Mazda: Fastest Race Lap: Diego Ferreira, 1:20.216, Race 2 (Qualifying held in the rain)
  • USF2000: Pole: Neil Alberico, 100.555 mph (1:20.839)
  • Pirelli World Challenge: GT Pole: Alex Figge, 99.325 mph (1:21.840)

F1 Mexican Grand Prix on NBC, NBCSN, App this week

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Lewis Hamilton is poised to wrap his fourth Formula 1 World Championship early at this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix, as NBC Sports covers the 18th of 20 rounds this season from the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.

Expanded TV coverage comes this weekend on NBC, NBCSN and the NBC Sports App.

All sessions will air live. Both Friday practice sessions are live on NBCSN at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. ET. Saturday third practice airs live via the NBC Sports App at 11 a.m. ET with a practice replay show at 12:30 p.m. before live qualifying at 2 p.m. ET, those two on NBCSN.

On Sunday, race day, F1 Countdown starts at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC leading to lights out and the race at 3 p.m. ET. Post-race coverage continues on NBC for one hour, from 5 to 6 p.m. ET.

Mercedes AMG Petronas has won both Mexican Grands Prix since the race was reinstated in 2015 after a 23-year hiatus. Nico Rosberg won in 2015 a race after Hamilton had clinched that year’s title, while Hamilton won last year in a 1-2 with Rosberg continuing to close on his first title.

Controversy reined about third place in Mexico last year with all of Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and ultimately Daniel Ricciardo ending in third, Ricciardo getting the podium after post-race penalties were assessed to the other two. Valtteri Bottas is the other active podium finisher in Mexico, having come third in 2015 with Williams.

Vettel enters Mexico 66 points behind Hamilton and can only keep the title alive to Brazil if he gets the gap under 50 points; any top-five finish for Hamilton will ensure the Englishman equals Vettel on four titles. So if Vettel doesn’t finish first or second, he can’t score enough points (either 25 or 18) to get that gap under 50 markers.

Last year’s race featured a bit of a “Noah’s Ark” finishing order with just the top five teams in the championship scoring points at this race, almost in descending order of just two-by-two. It was two Mercedes, then two Red Bulls, then two Ferraris, then Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India before the two Williams, and finally hometown hero Sergio Perez in the second Force India.

Perez is the lone home favorite this race with Esteban Gutierrez not on the grid this season.

Here’s the F1 schedule, with stream links and TV network if applicable:

  • Practice 1: Friday, Oct. 27, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 2: Friday, Oct. 27, 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 3: Saturday, Oct. 28, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Practice 3 (Replay): Saturday, Oct. 28, 12:30 p.m.-2 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Qualifying: Saturday, Oct. 28, 2 p.m.-3:45 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Pre-Race: Sunday, Oct. 29, 2:30 p.m.-3 p.m. ET (NBC)
  • Race: Sunday, Oct. 29, 3 p.m.-5 p.m. ET (NBC)
  • Post-Race: Sunday, Oct. 29, 5 p.m.-6 p.m. ET (NBC)
  • Race (Replay): Sunday, Oct. 29, 8:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)

The next race is the Brazilian Grand Prix, on November 12.