With shot at a fifth straight win, Lewis Hamilton could join illustrious company

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If Lewis Hamilton can win his fifth consecutive Grand Prix this Sunday in Monaco (7:30 a.m. ET, NBC), he’ll join only six other drivers in Formula One history who have accomplished that feat.

Four drivers have compiled a streak of “just” five in a row: the late Sir Jack Brabham and the late Jim Clark in 1960 and 1965, respectively; Nigel Mansell and Michael Schumacher each won the first five races to open their 1992 and 2004 seasons.

All four drivers with that five-peat went on to win the World Championship that season.

Schumacher also has runs of six (2000-2001) and seven (2004) in a row. The record is of course nine in a row, set last year by Sebastian Vettel, a mark equaled by the late Alberto Ascari from 1952 to 1953 as he won nine straight races he entered.

Hamilton, now the championship leader, has a solitary won at Monaco in 2008 with McLaren, but hasn’t finished on the podium here since. He’s obviously keen to change that this weekend.

“Monaco is just incredible to drive and any driver will tell you that’s the race they want to win. So many great names become legends around this circuit,” Hamilton said in the team’s pre-race advance. “It’s an honor to fight for your place amongst them and a real test of your skills behind the wheel.

“The last few races have been just incredible,” he added. “I honestly never expected I’d win four consecutive Grands Prix in my career and I’d love to continue that run here. I’ve had some work to do in terms of getting the car exactly as I want it after the weekend in Spain: it was so close between our cars at the end and I need to keep pushing to find any extra edge I can.”

Practice starts on Thursday with Practice 1 live streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra at 4 a.m. ET, with Practice 2 on NBCSN at 8 a.m. ET.

Al Unser Jr. back in IndyCar after a decade away: ‘Life is very good’

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There’s been somewhat of a hole in Al Unser Jr.’s heart ever since he retired from racing in 2007.

It was a void, something was missing.

But now, after a decade away from racing, Unser has found the right medicine to fill that hole in his heart: he’s back in the racing game again.

No, he’s not driving again (although he does participate occasionally in vintage races), but the two-time Indianapolis 500 (1992 and 1994) winner is definitely back in the IndyCar world.

And he couldn’t be happier.

“For me, it’s a dream come true,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “Since I stepped out of the race car and retired from racing, there’s been something missing from my life, and it’s racing.”

Unser has hooked up with Harding Racing. The team competed in three races last season as a ramp-up for a full 17-race effort this season. While Unser’s official title with the team is “consultant,” he’s involved in so much more.

His main role is as a driving coach to 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves. But he’s also involved in so many other areas, including helping the team obtain sponsorships and much more.

He then added, “I’m involved in every sense of the word except actually driving the car. And I’m happy about that because I’m too old to drive the car.”

Unser, who won CART championships in 1990 and 1994, is now 55. He’s so involved with his new job that he even moved from his native New Mexico and has relocated to suburban Indianapolis.

Not only is it a new start for Unser, it also is for Chaves. After running all 16 races in 2015 for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, he competed in just seven races for Dale Coyne Racing in 2016 and only three races for Harding Racing last season.

But he definitely impressed the team, with a fifth- (Texas) and ninth-place (Indianapolis 500) finish in the first two races and 15th (Pocono) in the team’s final run of the season.

That’s why when Harding Racing decided to go fulltime in 2018, Chaves was their pick for behind the wheel. And Unser was their pick to help guide him to potential stardom in the series.

“(Team owner) Mike Harding is definitely a person that when he decides to do something, he does it right,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “The potential for this organization is through the sky. We’re all working really hard here and we see the potential.”

And as for Unser?

“Life is good, life is very good,” he told IndyCar.com. “We’re back full force, eager and better than ever.”

Click here for the full story about Unser from IndyCar.com.