IndyCar points leader Will Power leads 3rd Long Beach practice

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Team Penske’s Will Power was the fastest driver in the final practice session before qualifying later today on the streets of Long Beach, California.

Power, who won the Verizon IndyCar Series season opener two weeks ago at St. Petersburg and is your early championship leader, turned in a lap of 1:08.1696 at 103.929 miles per hour in the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet.

That was just ahead of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing’s Josef Newgarden and his best lap of 1:08.1718 at 103.926 mph. Driving the No. 67 Honda, the American driver has been steady so far this weekend with showings of fifth and sixth in the previous two practice sessions.

Andretti Autosport’s James Hinchcliffe, fastest in the opening practice yesterday, was third this afternoon in his No. 27 United Fiber and Data Honda, posting a time of 1:08.4309 at 103.532 mph.

Sebastien Bourdais also appears to be finding his stride at Long Beach, where he won three consecutive times (2005-2007) in Champ Car. The KVSH Racing pilot was fourth-fastest in today’s practice (1:08.446 at 103.511 mph) with his No. 11 Mistic Electronic Cigarettes/Circle K Chevrolet.

Completing the Top 5 was another Andretti man in Ryan Hunter-Reay. He logged a 1:08.5296 at 103.383 mph in his No. 28 DHL Honda.

Justin Wilson, Simon Pagenaud (who topped yesterday’s second practice), Juan Pablo Montoya, rookie Jack Hawksworth and Mike Conway rounded out the Top 10 times, which were separated by less than half a second. Conway ran the most laps this session with 24 trips around the 1.9-mile course.

Today’s qualifying session will be shown this evening on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra at 6 p.m. ET.

TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH – PRACTICE 3 TIMES

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.