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WATCH LIVE: Japanese GP on NBCSN, NBC Sports app from midnight ET

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Nico Rosberg has paced all three practice sessions for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, then secured the pole on Saturday. So the German is determined to extend what’s currently a 23-point lead over Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Here’s the catch: Rosberg’s also won the pole position for the last two races in Japan, and both times he’s lost the race while Hamilton’s won the last two from second on the grid.

Hamilton, who’s been in the news more this week for how he reacted to an engine failure in Malaysia, his Snapchat activity during the Thursday press conference and his comments (or lack thereof) with the media, needs a win to be the story line folks are talking about after today’s race, which is the 17th of 21 this season.

Either Rosberg or Hamilton carries the strongest chance of winning the race. In Japanese Grand Prix history at Suzuka, in 27 prior runnings, the front row starters have won 85 percent of the races, and only 15 percent have been outside that window. One of them famously came when Kimi Raikkonen won from 17th in 2005, and the Finn starts third on Sunday as he looks for his first win since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix, then driving for Lotus.

You can watch the Japanese Grand Prix live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App from midnight ET on Sunday, 9 p.m. PT on the West Coast. CLICK HERE to watch via live stream.

Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett will be on the call, with pit reporter Will Buxton on the ground at Suzuka providing updates and interviews throughout the race.

Also be sure to follow the @F1onNBCSports Twitter account for live updates throughout the race.

2016 Japanese Grand Prix – Starting Grid

1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
3. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
4. Max Verstappen Red Bull
5. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
6. Sergio Perez Force India
7. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari*
8. Romain Grosjean Haas
9. Nico Hulkenberg Force India
10. Esteban Gutierrez Haas
11. Valtteri Bottas Williams
12. Felipe Massa Williams
13. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso
14. Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso
15. Fernando Alonso McLaren
16. Jolyon Palmer Renault
17. Jenson Button McLaren
18. Kevin Magnussen Renault
19. Marcus Ericsson Sauber
20. Felipe Nasr Sauber
21. Esteban Ocon Manor
22. Pascal Wehrlein Manor*

*Grid penalty assessed

GoDaddy to sponsor Patrick in ‘Danica Double’ at Daytona, Indy — now all she needs are rides

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By The Associated Press

Danica Patrick is going back to green.

GoDaddy Green, to be exact – a fitting color for her farewell tour.

The company will sponsor Patrick in the upcoming “Danica Double” that will close out her racing career, The Associated Press has learned. Patrick has no ride yet for next month’s Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500 in May, but she now has the financial backing to pull it off.

This time around, the original GoDaddy Girl will symbolize the new core mission of the company that helped make her one of the world’s most recognizable athletes.

“There’s this great story: I left IndyCar with GoDaddy on my car, I started NASCAR with GoDaddy on my car, I’m most recognized as the GoDaddy green car and driver, and so to finish up my career that way feels appropriate,” Patrick told the AP from Scottsdale, Arizona.

Her final race will be the Indy 500, an appropriate choice because it was “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” that rocketed Patrick and GoDaddy into pop culture notoriety.

GoDaddy and Patrick grew up together. The company switched series with her and marketed her as a strong, sexy woman in 13 Super Bowl commercials – a record appearance for celebrities. Now, the company is most interested in Patrick the budding businesswoman who is firmly closing the door on her racing career and rebranding herself as an entrepreneur . She has a book out, an apparel line, a wine label and confirmed to AP this week that she’s dating Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“Our goals are so well-aligned,” Barb Rechterman, the chief marketing officer of GoDaddy, told AP. “She’s passionate, tenacious and creative just like so many of our customers who are also looking to leverage the power of the internet and turn their `side hustle’ into a full-time business. Danica absolutely epitomizes the heart of our GoDaddy customers.”

Prepare to hear a lot about the “side hustle” as GoDaddy climbs aboard the so-far fledgling “Danica Double.”

Patrick announced in November she would end her driving career with the Daytona 500 and Indy 500, but didn’t have a deal completed for either race. Still doesn’t. Yet somehow, Patrick always figures a way to get what she wants. Talks ended with Chip Ganassi Racing about a possible ride, and late last month, Patrick said, she called former GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons and asked about a reunion.

GoDaddy has rebranded since it last teamed with Patrick. The company now touts itself as “the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures,” and there’s no better spokeswoman than Patrick, who is in the next chapter of her life and her brand.

GoDaddy pulled out of racing after the 2015 season, and Patrick hasn’t had the same level of funding and marketing support since. Patrick has slowly reshaped her image, first into a Instagram model and is now a full-blown lifestyle guru. She realized – at the age of 35 – she was on her own.

She and GoDaddy aligned for a splashy move into NASCAR, where she was glamorous off the track but only mediocre on it. Through all of this, she was married, divorced, spent five years dating fellow driver and competitor Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and then seemed to find herself through a tailored diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

She is cutting the cord on racing after Indy, and her focus is on a sense of well-being far away from the track.

“Their business is so perfectly paired to what is going on with mine, so when we sat down and met, it was like, `Let’s talk about our business. Let’s talk about the messaging. How does this work?”‘ Patrick said. “And this is undeniably perfect for both of us. Not only is it a huge two races and the biggest two races of the year, but on top of that, you have so much `side hustle’ going on, and all the messaging and our brands, and where we are going is so perfectly paired.”w

GoDaddy can help Patrick move on to whatever it is for racing’s former “It Girl.” The company will help her streamline her online presence. Patrick, for the company, is back as a neon green-and-yellow symbol to all the wannabe entrepreneurs chasing dreams.

She’ll get those rides, too. Patrick said she knows she will because she believes she will.

“That’s just the way the universe works,” she said. “You have to ask for what you want. Things have taken a long time with this, but you just have to go with the flow on these things. The universe is not on your time schedule.”

More AP auto racing: https://racing.ap.org/