IndyCar championship to be awarded in primetime this Saturday on NBCSN

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STAMFORD, Conn. – August 28, 2014 – Team Penske teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves lead a group of championship hopefuls this weekend aiming for the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series title at the MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championships, the final race of the 2014 season, on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

NBC Sports Live Extra – NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, and tablets – will live stream Saturday’s MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championships.

NBC Sports Group’s motorsports coverage this week also includes more than 10 hours of Auctions America action from its flagship Auburn auction, as well as encore presentations of Mecum Dealmakers and /DRIVE on NBC Sports.

MAVTV 500 INDYCAR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS – SATURDAY AT 9 P.M. ET ON NBCSN

NBCSN’s coverage of the MAVTV 500 begins Friday evening at 7 p.m. ET with qualifying, followed by live race coverage on Saturday in primetime at 9 p.m. ET.

Power leads Castroneves by 51 points heading into the 2014 IndyCar season finale, followed by Simon Pagenaud (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, 81 points behind). Both Power and Castroneves are looking to secure their first career IndyCar titles, and both drivers have finished second in the final standings on three separate occasions.

This weekend’s race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. is worth double points, meaning a potential 100-point swing in the standings, keeping Pageneaud’s slim title hopes alive.

Power has recorded three IndyCar victories this season (St. Petersburg, Detroit, Milwaukee), and seven podium finishes, while Castroneves has earned one victory, in the second race of the Detroit doubleheader, and six overall podiums. Last year, Power took the checkered flag at Fontana for his first career victory at Auto Club Speedway.

Pre-race coverage will also feature an exclusive one-on-one interview between analyst and former Team Penske driver Paul Tracy and team owner Roger Penske, who is primed to win his first IndyCar team title since 2006.

NBC Sports Group’s lead IndyCar and Formula One play-by-play voice Leigh Diffey will call the MAVTV 500 on-site, alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Reporters Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller will report from the pits.

NBCSN PRESENTS AUCTIONS AMERICA: AUBURN BEGINNING THURSDAY

NBCSN will present 10 hours of Auctions America coverage this week from its flagship Auburn auction in Auburn, Ind. The action begins tomorrow at 3 p.m. ET, followed by coverage Friday at 10:30 p.m. ET.

NBCSN’s presentation of Auctions America: Auburn continues Saturday at 3 p.m. ET, with the final installation airing Sunday at 6 p.m. ET.

More than 1,200 classic cars, muscle cars, hot rods and more are expected to cross auction block in Auburn, including a 1921 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Saloon, and a 1964 Chevrolet Impala Convertible.

Veteran broadcaster Bill Patrick will host NBCSN’s Auctions America coverage this week, alongside NBCSN F1 analyst and former Benetton F1 team race mechanic Steve Matchett and motorsports reporter Georgia Lindsay.

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Hungarian Grand Prix on NBCSN concludes busy July for F1

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The third Grand Prix for the month of July and fourth in the last six weeks for Formula 1 after races in Baku, Spielberg and Silverstone takes place this week with the Hungarian Grand Prix from Budapest.

After a couple races on CNBC, the channel is simple this weekend: it’s NBCSN for all sessions on TV with free practice two (Friday) and qualifying (Saturday) both live at 8 a.m. ET, with a full one-hour countdown for the race from 7 a.m. ET on Sunday before lights out at 8.

As per usual the NBC Sports App will live stream free practices one and three, with all sessions streamed during the weekend.

The British Grand Prix two weeks ago brings this year’s F1 season to an interesting point. With Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton’s win, it brings him to within just one point of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel for the championship lead. Vettel is at 177 with Hamilton now at 176.

And Hungary’s been a place where both drivers have succeeded. Hamilton won here last year while Vettel won in 2015. Overall Hamilton has a record five Hungarian Grand Prix victories (2007, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2016) and will look to match his Canada total with a sixth this weekend. Vettel’s 2015 win is his only triumph at the circuit.

Other Hungarian Grand Prix winners in the field are Daniel Ricciardo (2014), Kimi Raikkonen (2005) and Fernando Alonso (2003).

Beyond the top two, Valtteri Bottas will look to upend proceedings and continue his own title battle for Mercedes. He sits third in points with 154, in a spot of his own well clear of fourth on back and just under a full race distance behind the leaders.

Here’s the schedule, with stream links and TV network if applicable:

  • Practice 1: Friday, July 28, 4 a.m.-5:30 a.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Practice 2: Friday, July 28, 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 2 (Replay): Saturday, July 29, 6:30 a.m.-8 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 3: Saturday, July 29, 5 a.m.-6 a.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Qualifying: Saturday, July 29, 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Pre-Race: Sunday, July 30, 7 a.m.-8 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race: Sunday, July 30, 8 a.m.-10 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Post-Race: Sunday, July 30, 10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race (Replay): Sunday, July 30, 9:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Formula 2: Sunday, July 30, 6 a.m.-7 a.m. ET (NBCSN)

The next race is the Belgian Grand Prix, on August 27, after F1’s traditional summer break.

Robert Hight extends Funny Car victory streak to 13 seasons

Photo: Gary Nastase and Auto Imagery
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MORRISON, Colo. (AP) Robert Hight beat Tommy Johnson Jr. on Sunday in the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway to extend his Funny Car victory streak to 13 seasons.

Hight topped Johnson with a 3.995-second pass at 317.57 mph in a Chevrolet Camaro SS for his 38th career victory.

“We definitely struggled through the first few rounds and we were lucky to get those round wins, but I have a great team who figured things out and helped get me to the winner’s circle,” Hight said. “It’s definitely a long-time coming and we hadn’t had much luck, but today we had some luck and we hope this continues throughout the Western Swing.”

Antron Brown won in Top Fuel, Drew Skillman in Pro Stock, and Eddie Krawiec in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Brown edged teammate and No. 1 qualifier Leah Pritchett with a 3.792 at 319.82. He has three victories this season to push his career total to 64.

Skillman raced to his second straight victory and the fifth of his career, beating points leader Bo Butner with a 6.916 run at 198.15 in a Camaro.

Krawiec topped Matt Smith with a 7.145 at 188.28. The Harley-Davidson rider has two victories this season and 38 overall.

Sauber confirms Matsushita for Hungary test as well

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Honda junior driver Nobuhiro Matsushita will have a run with Sauber F1 Team on the second day of the Hungarian Grand Prix post-race week test, in the team’s C36 chassis.

Sauber’s engine selection for 2018 is up in the air. While the team announced a switch from year old Ferraris to Hondas, this was done under prior team principal Monisha Kaltenborn and rumors have persisted the deal may be off, or wasn’t fully done in the first place.

That Matsushita is running at this test for his first day in an F1 car – Gustav Malja will run on day one – could indicate the Honda switch isn’t yet a dead topic.

“When I was four years old, I was fascinated by Michael Schumacher, watching him racing in Formula 1. Since then my dream was to become a Formula 1 driver,” he said. “I am very excited about my first Formula 1 test and I am really looking forward to driving the Sauber C36-Ferrari at the Hungaroring – it is a great opportunity for me. I hope it will be a productive day for the team as well as for myself, so that I can learn as much as possible. I would like to thank the Sauber F1 Team for making this happen.”

New team boss Frederic Vasseur, formerly of Renault, gave his take on the test.

“I am pleased that Nobuharu has this great opportunity. He deserves the experience of his first test in a Formula 1 car. Ever since his debut in Formula 2 with ART Grand Prix, I have been following his progress closely, and have watched him advance his performance from year to year. With this Formula 1 test, he comes one step closer to his dream of becoming an F1 driver one day.”

Renault confirms Robert Kubica will test in Hungary

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Renault Sport F1 Team has confirmed Robert Kubica will make his return to a current Formula 1 car in the post-Hungarian Grand Prix test, which will only continue to fuel the hype train for a possible race return.

The Pole has undertaken two tests in recent weeks with older cars but this day in the Renault R.S.17 will provide the team a chance to evaluate him in current machinery to gauge his race level fitness.

It’s a story that has got the F1 world buzzing in recent weeks as Kubica, injured in a rally accident before the 2011 season, has made a comeback to restart his racing career.

Poor Nicholas Latifi, also confirmed for the test that runs the Tuesday and Wednesday after the Hungarian Grand Prix, will be undoubtedly overlooked as a result.

Jolyon Palmer will race in Hungary this weekend at least but whether the Brit continues beyond the summer break that follows afterwards remains a question mark.