There’s several goodbyes confirmed or possible for IndyCar this evening

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This year’s IZOD IndyCar Series finale, the MAVTV 500 (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra), has several hellos and several more goodbyes. Here’s a quick recap of what we either are or may be saying goodbye to:

THIS IS THE LAST TIME

THIS MAY BE THE LAST TIME, I DON’T KNOW…

  • For AJ Allmendinger in IndyCar, with a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup ride beginning in 2014.
  • For Alex Tagliani at Target Chip Ganassi Racing, and possibly in IndyCar given his recent sports car dalliance with Ferrari.
  • For JR Hildebrand (Barracuda Racing), Simona de Silvestro (KV Racing Technology), James Jakes (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) and Oriol Servia (Panther Racing) at their respective teams. All are free agents at the end of the year.
  • For Venezuelan support, as it adorns the No. 5 Andretti Autosport Chevrolet driven tonight by Carlos Munoz, after a freeze has been put on funding.
  • For National Guard as primary sponsor at Panther Racing, per a report by NBCSN insider and RACER.com’s Robin Miller.  
  • For HP as primary sponsor at Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports, per a report by RACER’s Marshall Pruett.  

THIS IS A COMEBACK RACE IN INDYCAR

  • For Allmendinger, who starts second, for the first time since Detroit.
  • For Pippa Mann, for the first time since Pocono in July.
  • For Tagliani and Carlos Munoz, for the first time since Toronto Race 2.
  • For Hildebrand, for the first time since Sonoma. 

Lauda labels Verstappen USGP penalty ‘the worst I’ve ever seen’

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Mercedes Formula 1 non-executive chairman Niki Lauda has called the FIA stewards’ decision to penalize Max Verstappen for his last-lap pass on Kimi Raikkonen in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix as “the worst I’ve ever seen”.

Verstappen charged from 16th on the grid to take third place from Raikkonen on the last lap after a stunning fight through the field, completing the fightback with a bold pass in the final sector.

However, the stewards stripped Verstappen of P3 after he appeared to put all four wheels off the circuit when riding the kerb to pass Raikkonen, causing outcry in the F1 community.

Speaking to reporters after the race in Austin, Lauda condemned the stewards’ decision, slamming them for interfering in the late fight.

“We had meetings at the start of the year to see how far stewards should go in decisions during a race because it always says ‘under investigation’,” Lauda said, as quoted by Crash.net.

“So we complained about that and we agreed all together that the stewards would not interfere – very simple.

“If the driver goes over another and upside down, only then would they weigh in. That was at the beginning of last year.

“For six months it was OK, but this decision was the worst I’ve ever seen. He did nothing wrong.”

Lauda said F1 team bosses would discuss stewarding at the next Strategy Group meeting, which is due to be held in the next two weeks.

“These are racing drivers. We are not on the normal roads and it is ridiculous to destroy the sport with these kind of decisions,” Lauda said.

“At the next strategy meeting, we will put it back on the agenda and start all over again, because we cannot do that.

“They go too far and interfere and there was nothing to interfere with. It was normal overtaking.”