Chevrolet earns second straight IndyCar manufacturer’s title

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Chevrolet’s IndyCar Series title contender, Helio Castroneves, may not have been able to win the championship tonight at Auto Club Speedway, but the Bowtie was still able to claim its second consecutive manufacturer’s crown after Will Power took the checkered flag.

Going into the MAV TV 500, seven cars within the Honda ranks (one of them being the No. 9 car of eventual driver’s champ Scott Dixon) and a sole Chevrolet – Castroneves’ No. 3 car – were ineligible to score points for their respective marque. Honda and Chevy had been tied at 135 points, with nine victories achieved by each side.

But with the twin mechanical failures suffered by Honda-powered drivers Charlie Kimball and J.R. Hildebrand just after a restart with 14 laps remaining in tonight’s event, Honda ran out of eligible cars to go toward the manufacturer’s championship.

Chevy-powered pilots locked down the top four positions at the checkered flag, with Power leading Ed Carpenter, Tony Kanaan and James Hinchcliffe across the stripe. Dixon led the Honda camp with a fifth-place finish that brought him his third career series title.

The manufacturer’s title ended a pretty good day for Chevy, whose No. 3 Corvette Racing team of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia earned the final GT driver’s championship in American Le Mans Series history earlier Saturday at Petit Le Mans.

But what of the future? With Honda recently talking about the importance of a third engine manufacturer to emerge for IndyCar, Chevrolet’s Jim Campbell said at ACS that his company would also welcome more open-wheel competition.

“We’d be supportive of another manufacturer,” he said. “When there’s two [manufacturers], you have to do 60 percent [of the cars]. When there’s three, there’s 40 [percent].

“In the end, it’s more about the competition. We don’t like running in a spec series. It pushes you to be better every week.”

In a statement, Honda Performance Development president Art St. Cyr called tonight’s event an “exciting end” to the season but also “somewhat bittersweet.”

“We’re already looking forward to the start of the 2014 season, which for all of us begins tomorrow,” he said.

MotorSportsTalk’s Tony DiZinno contributed to this report.

F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on NBCSN, NBC Sports App this week

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After five years and 98 Grands Prix broadcast since 2013, NBC Sports Group’s coverage of Formula 1 concludes with the 2017 season finale from Abu Dhabi at the Yas Marina Circuit this week.

The lights come on for the day-into-night Grand Prix of the year as the sun sets on five years of broadcasts, original content and additional digital specific features such as Paddock Pass.

For Abu Dhabi this week, all of the race, qualifying and second free practice will be live on NBCSN with first and third free practice live on the NBC Sports App. The race returns is back in the usual morning a.m. time slots after three mid-day races in Austin, Mexico City and Sao Paulo, and a pair of overnight affairs in Kuala Lumpur and Suzuka. Formula 2 coverage of its season finale from Abu Dhabi also airs both on NBCSN and online.

With this the final race of the season before F1’s winter break, there’s still a handful of things to get sorted even though Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have wrapped their respective championships.

Sebastian Vettel (Brazil) and Max Verstappen (Mexico) have won the last two races, with Hamilton’s most recent win coming at Circuit of the Americas. Will it be any of these three that wrap the year on a high or could any of their teammates – Kimi Raikkonen, Daniel Ricciardo or Valtteri Bottas – upend the script?

Mercedes has won the last three races in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton winning in 2014 and 2016 with Nico Rosberg taking the 2015 crown.

Vettel and Hamilton have three wins apiece in Abu Dhabi, Vettel having taken all of his with Red Bull in 2009, 2010 and 2013, and Hamilton adding a 2011 McLaren triumph to his last two with Mercedes. Raikkonen (2012, Lotus) and Rosberg are the other Abu Dhabi winners, and while both Vettel and Raikkonen have won in Abu Dhabi, Ferrari never has in the first eight races here.

The last place up for grabs in the constructor’s battle is for sixth, with Toro Rosso (53 points), Renault (49) and Haas (47) separated by only six total points. Toro Rosso and Renault got into a nasty war of words in Brazil, and will part ways after the weekend.

Felipe Massa signs off his career in F1 for the second and expected final time at Williams, and with Toro Rosso having confirmed Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley last week, his seat is one of only three left to fill for 2018, and the most attractive.

McLaren and Honda also bring to an end their partnership after three troubled seasons, but on the bright side will look to score points for a third straight race together, which hasn’t happened since the Hungarian, German and Belgian Grands Prix of 2016.

As ever, and perhaps for the final time as a collective unit, Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett will be on the call with Will Buxton reporting from the pits and paddock.

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

  • Practice 1: Friday, Nov. 24, 4 a.m.-5:30 a.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Practice 2: Friday, Nov. 24, 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 3: Saturday, Nov. 25, 5 a.m.-6 a.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Qualifying: Saturday, Nov. 25, 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Pre-Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 7 a.m.-8 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 8 a.m.-10 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Post-Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 10 a.m.-10:55 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race (Replay): Sunday, Nov. 26, 7 p.m.-9 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • F2 Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 6 a.m.-7 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • F2 Race (Replay): Sunday, Nov. 26, 9 p.m.-10 p.m. ET (NBCSN)