First event of 2014 TORC championship in the books

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Writer’s Note: The following is a recap of this weekend’s season-opening event for TORC: The Off-Road Championship – the “Duel in the Desert” from Primm, Nevada. NBCSN will air the event on Friday, April 25 at 11 p.m. ET. If you don’t want to know who won until then, we suggest you find another post to read here on MotorSportsTalk…

While gamblers hoped for a jackpot at the nearby casinos, the drivers of TORC: The Off-Road Championship entered the weekend at Primm Valley Off-Road Raceway hoping for a strong start to their 2014 seasons.

The “Duel in the Desert” began with an action-packed Round 1 on Saturday that saw Adrian Cenni win the PRO 4 race with a last-lap pass on Johnny Greaves, who still claimed second despite rolling his truck early in the race.

But a momentary mistake on Greaves’ part – in which he got loose in a corner and hit a hay bale – allowed Cenni to reel him in. On the final circuit, the two went side-by-side before Cenni made the pass stick in Turn 3 and then went on to win.

Meanwhile, Chad Hord’s wire-to-wire triumph in PRO 2 was overshadowed by the stunning barrel roll that Arie Luyendyk Jr. took after mid-air contact with another competitor.

Luckily, Arie Jr. was alert upon his transfer to a local hospital and earlier today, he was spotted back at the track to not only watch but also join the NBCSN team in the booth:

The 24-truck PRO Light class started the day, and that race was won from the pole by C.J. Greaves.

Saturday’s Podium Finishers

  • PRO 4: 1. Adrian Cenni; 2. Johnny Greaves; 3. Mark Kvamme
  • PRO 2: 1. Chad Hord; 2. Marty Hart; 3. Mike Jenkins
  • PRO Light: 1. C.J. Greaves; 2. Doug Mittag; 3. Jerett Brooks

However, in today’s Round 2 of the Duel, Johnny Greaves avenged his near-miss yesterday by beating Cenni to the checkered flag in PRO 4.

Greaves took the lead shortly after the drop of the green flag and held it up to the competition caution. When the green came back out at Lap 10, Greaves was able to maintain the point while second-place Mark Jenkins went over the wall to trigger a full-course yellow.

The incident elevated Cenni to second place, but Greaves quickly pulled away when the race went green again.

In PRO 2, Hord rocketed from fourth to the lead on the opening lap but lost the point shortly after the competition yellow to C.J. Greaves. C.J. then hung on the rest of the way for the victory, a nice follow-up to his third-place finish in PRO Light behind winner Jerett Brooks and runner-up Kyle Hart.

Sunday’s Podium Finishers

  • PRO 4: 1. Johnny Greaves; 2. Adrian Cenni; 3. Scott Douglas
  • PRO 2: 1. C.J. Greaves; 2. Chad Hord; 3. Patrick Clark
  • PRO Light: 1. Jerett Brooks; 2. Kyle Hart; 3. C.J. Greaves

TORC: The Off-Road Championship will return to action for the Showdown in Charlotte on April 25 and 26 at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

WATCH: Red Bull GRC opener at Memphis, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET on NBC

Photo: Louis Yio/Red Bull Content Pool
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Red Bull Global Rallycross kicks its 2017 season off with its first tip to Memphis, on a 1.18-mile “roval” course this weekend.

Coverage airs Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on NBC for the high-intensity rallycross championship. Toby Moody, Anders Krohn and Will Christien have the call.

Scott Speed looks to open his 2017 season strong in pursuit of his third straight championship with Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross, but teammate Tanner Foust and strong factory efforts from Honda and Subaru are poised to upset him and the VW Andretti team.

Besides the Supercars, GRC Lites also open their 2017 season at Memphis. That coverage airs on Tuesday, May 2, at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

IndyCar Paddock Pass: Phoenix (VIDEO)

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – The NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass is back for NBCSN’s third Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season, the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix (tonight, 9 p.m. ET, NBCSN) from Phoenix International Raceway.

NBCSN IndyCar and Indy Lights reporter and IndyCar’s “Up to Speed” host Katie Hargitt fills in for Anders Krohn this weekend. She checks in with the following drivers in this weekend’s episode:

  • With Josef Newgarden, driver of the No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, who won at Barber.
  • With JR Hildebrand, driver of the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet, back this week after missing Barber.
  • And with Zach Veach, who deputized for Hildebrand at Barber and is here this weekend in his IndyCar Radio role as a pit reporter, and preparing for the Indianapolis 500 with AJ Foyt Racing.

You can see the episode above. Past IndyCar Paddock Pass episodes are below:


Hamilton confused by lack of pace in Russia F1 qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton was left confused and disappointed after finishing half a second behind pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel in Formula 1 qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Hamilton arrived in Russia looking to cut the gap to Ferrari driver Vettel in the championship standings after falling seven points behind last time out in Bahrain.

Vettel rallied to take his first pole since the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday in Sochi, while Hamilton finished half a second back in fourth place, lagging behind Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton has long stated his desire to have Ferrari fighting with Mercedes at the front of the pace, but he was disappointed not to be able to fight Vettel for pole in Russia.

“This means we have a real race. It’s just a shame today, I definitely wasn’t at my optimum,” Hamilton told NBCSN after the session.

“Normally I’m a lot quicker than I was today. I need to go and work out why and if I can do anything.

“Obviously I can’t change the car, so I’ll see what I can do tomorrow.”

Speaking in Mercedes’ post-qualifying release, Hamilton said that he is hopeful of making use of the long straights at the Sochi Autodrom to catch and pass the Ferrari driver, with Mercedes bidding to maintain a 100 per cent record at the track.

“Sochi isn’t the easiest track to follow on, but there are long straights which should offer the opportunity to move forward. That’s our goal,” Hamilton said.

“I’m on the dirty side of the grid so I haven’t done myself any favours off the start. But that was the best job I could do today. We’ve got a real race to look forward to.

“There’s no point being upset. We’ll channel our positive energy and hopefully Sunday will be better.”

The Russian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.

Q3 traffic costs Raikkonen shot at first F1 pole in nine years

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Kimi Raikkonen was left lamenting traffic at the start of his final qualifying run in Sochi after narrowly missing out on his first Formula 1 pole in almost nine years.

Raikkonen last started a grand prix from pole in France back in 2008, but sat on provisional pole after the first Q3 runs had been completed in Russia on Saturday.

The final laps saw Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel improve to wrestle pole away, with a mistake sending Raikkonen wide at the final corner, meaning he was unable to improve.

Raikkonen was left to settle for second place, 0.059 seconds off Vettel’s time, with the Finn saying his inability to get his tires up to temperature early was the main issue.

“Obviously the aim is to be in the front. The feeling has been more better this weekend,” Raikkonen explained.

“Now we just got some traffic on our out lap in the last set and couldn’t really make the tires work as well as the first run. It was a bit more trickier. They were thereabouts and I just about got it back in the last corner, but obviously didn’t pay off.

“I’m happier than previous qualifyings, but obviously we had all the tools to be in the front today. One-two for the team is not bad.”

While Raikkonen was unable to take pole, Ferrari did capture its first front-row lock-out since the race at Magny-Cours in 2008. Raikkonen took pole that day ahead of teammate Felipe Massa, with the latter going on to win the race.

The Russian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.