Changes made to Friday’s IndyCar schedule at Iowa; Hinchcliffe fastest in Practice 1 (UPDATED)

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UPDATE (1:05 p.m. ET): INDYCAR has announced a schedule change for today as weather affects both them and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Iowa Speedway.

Practice 2 and qualifying for Sunday’s Iowa Corn Indy 300 have effectively flip-flopped. Practice 2 will now take place at 2:45 p.m. ET, and qualifying will go off at 7 p.m. ET.

The original schedule had qualifying slated for 3 p.m. ET and Practice 2 for 7 p.m. ET.

This morning’s first practice session was cut short by rain after just 15 minutes of running at the 7/8-mile bullring.

With about one hour to go, the yellow came out for track conditions. While drivers initially remained strapped into the car, the rain picked up in intensity and with lightning also in the area, IndyCar chose to call the session early.

This weekend’s forecast has rain figuring heavily with a 70 percent chance of precipitation today and a 60 percent chance tomorrow. The race is slated to take the green flag Saturday night at 8:50 p.m. ET (coverage starts at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra).

“As always, we’re going to wait and see what the weather does but if you look at the forecast, it looks like [the rain] going to drive in until almost Sunday,” INDYCAR president of competition Derrick Walker said to IndyCar Radio.

“I hate to say that, but we’ll try to get the [backup] plans out there and let the fans know as soon as possible.”

Andretti Autosport’s James Hinchcliffe, the defending champion at Iowa Speedway, was fastest in this morning’s abbreviated session with a lap of 183.647 miles per hour.

Two more Andretti drivers – rookie Carlos Munoz and former Iowa winner Marco Andretti – also posted laps within the Top 5. Munoz was third-quickest (183.105 mph) and Andretti was fifth-quickest (182.255 mph).

Occupying P2 and P4 were a pair of Chip Ganassi Racing drivers. Kanaan was second with a lap of 183.562 mph and Charlie Kimball was fourth after a lap of 182.536 mph.

Lewis Hamilton comes home to Mercedes factory after fourth title

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On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.

And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.

Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home ofΒ Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.

The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.

“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.

“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.

“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”

A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.