Houston IndyCar, Motocross Tennessee highlight this weekend on NBC Sports Group networks

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Verizon IndyCar Series and Lucas Oil Pro Motocross coverage take the lead this weekend on the NBC Sports Group networks, with streaming also offered via NBC Sports Live Extra:

GRAND PRIX OF HOUSTON – SATURDAY & SUNDAY AT 3 P.M. ET ON NBCSN

NBCSN’s presentation of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series from Houston begins Saturday at 2 p.m. ET with qualifying, leading into live coverage of Race 1 at 3 p.m. ET. Live coverage of Race 2 from Houston will air on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Two weeks ago, Ed Carpenter (Ed Carpenter Racing) held off Will Power (Team Penske) to win the Firestone 600 in Texas, after Power was penalized for speeding on pit lane with 35 laps remaining. IndyCar returned to Houston last year for the first time since 2007, with the new street circuit incorporating Houston landmarks including Reliant Stadium, Reliant Astrodome and Reliant Arena, with Power and Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) earning victories in the doubleheader.

NBC Sports Group’s lead IndyCar and Formula One play-by-play voice Leigh Diffey will call the Grand Prix of Houston on-site, alongside former IndyCar driver Paul Tracy and IndyCar and F1 analyst Steve Matchett. Reporters Jon Beekhuis, Kelli Stavast, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller will report from the pits.

LUCAS OIL PRO MOTOCROSS TENNESSEE NATIONAL – SATURDAY

NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra will combine to present six hours of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Tennessee National coverage from Muddy Creek Raceway in Blountville, Tenn. on Saturday. Coverage starts on Live Extra at 10:30 a.m. ET with practice, followed by the pre-race show at 12:15 p.m. ET. Race coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET on Live Extra with 1st Motos, followed by NBC’s live presentation of the 450 Class of Moto 2 at 3 p.m. ET. Live coverage of the 250 Class of Moto 2 airs at 4 p.m. ET on Live Extra, with an encore presentation at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Two weeks ago, James Stewart swept the 450 Class in Moto 2 at High Point, while Blake Baggett won in the 250 Class for wins in back-to-back events.

Veteran play-by-play voice Jason Weigandt, analyst and two-time AMA Pro Motocross Champion Grant Langston, and pit reporter Georgia Lindsay will call the action from Tennessee National on Saturday.

Motorsports Coverage This Week on NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra:

Date Program Time (ET) Network
Wed., June 25 NASCAR America 5 p.m. NBCSN
Thu., June 26 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross: High Point (Encore) 7 a.m. NBCSN
/DRIVE on NBC Sports (Encore) 5 p.m. NBCSN
NASCAR America 6 p.m. NBCSN
Fri., June 27 Mecum Auctions: Kansas City (Encore) 7 a.m. NBCSN
Lucas Oil Motorsports Hour 4 p.m. NBCSN
NASCAR America 5 p.m. NBCSN
Sat., June 28 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Tennessee: Practice 10:30 a.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Tennessee: Pre-Show 12:15 p.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Tennessee: 1stMotos 1 p.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
IndyCar Grand Prix of Houston: Qualifying 2 p.m. NBCSN
IndyCar Grand Prix of Houston: Race 1 3 p.m. NBCSN
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Tennessee: 2nd Motos 3 p.m. NBC
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Tennessee: 2ndMotos 4 p.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Tennessee: 2ndMotos 6 p.m. NBCSN
Rally America 8 p.m. NBCSN
Off The Grid: Barcelona 9 p.m. NBCSN
Sun., June 29 IndyCar Grand Prix of Houston: Race 2 3 p.m. NBCSN
KURT BUSCH: 36 6 p.m. NBCSN
Mecum Auctions: Houston (Encore) 7 p.m. NBCSN
Mecum Auctions: Indianapolis (Encore) 9:30 p.m. NBCSN

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”