Kimball with the "Robowranglers" in Texas (LAT photo)

Robotics rivalry on tap between Kimball, Newgarden

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Ahead of the first of two races in the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN), two of IndyCar’s young American stars will be engaging in a rivalry of a different kind: with robots.

Mid-Ohio race winner Charlie Kimball and Baltimore runner-up Josef Newgarden are competing for separate robotics teams based in Texas as part of IndyCar’s new STEM Initiative, which was announced earlier this year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Kimball, of Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing, will be partnering with FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) Team “Robowranglers,” from Greenville, TX. Meanwhile Newgarden, of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing will join the League City, TX-based FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) Team “Robonauts.” The robots, Viper and Apex, have been built by these award-winning individual high school teams and will have a showdown as the driver-controlled robots try to score as many flying discs into team goals as they can. The higher the goal in which the disc is scored, the more points received.

More important than who wins is who loses – we wonder what kind of punishment should be doled out to whichever Honda driver comes in second. It needs to be at least close to the level of crazy that Alex Tagliani hit at the Indiana State Fair, when he lost a wager with Scott Dixon and wore a beaver suit.

F1 Paddock Pass: United States Grand Prix post-race (VIDEO)

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As Lewis Hamilton took another step towards his fourth Formula 1 World Championship Sunday at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas, plenty of other topics of discussion emerged in the wake of Round 17 of the season from Austin.

Hamilton’s win came as his Mercedes AMG Petronas team claimed its fourth consecutive Constructor’s Championship, Scuderia Ferrari came up short once again despite a valiant effort in second and third, and Max Verstappen’s penalty after the race was the major talking point.

Elsewhere Valtteri Bottas struggled again, the Sahara Force India twins continued to pick up points, Carlos Sainz Jr. made a major positive impact in his first start with Renault, Brendon Hartley impressed on debut at Toro Rosso and Romain Grosjean and Haas F1 Team endured a tough weekend on Haas’ home soil.

Check out all the recap from the latest USGP in the latest post-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass with NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton, below.