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Gutierrez: ‘Complex’ ovals will take time to adapt to

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For the first time since what is now the INDYCAR Grand Prix in mid-May, the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda will have the same driver on board for consecutive race weekends, as Esteban Gutierrez continues at Iowa after also being at Road America.

Gutierrez will be in his UNIFIN-backed car at Iowa Speedway this weekend for the Iowa Corn 300, for what will be his oval debut.

The Mexican driver has raced on a street course at Belle Isle Park in Detroit and a natural terrain road course at Road America but now steps into his biggest challenge yet, running on the 0.894-mile Iowa Speedway.

His oval debut comes after a test last week with fellow rookie Ed Jones, and Gutierrez was impressed by the challenge of running flat out on an oval.

“It’s great to approach the race weekend having done some testing at the track. Obviously, it’s a completely new racing style for me. An oval seems very basic from the outside but it’s actually quite complex,” Gutierrez admitted in the team’s pre-race release.

“I really enjoyed it at the test and I’m very excited to do my first oval race at Iowa. It will definitely take some time for me to adapt, especially racing with other cars around. That will be an interesting experience.

“I’m looking forward to it. It was really fun to drive on the oval, I think it’s very nice how you can really feel every change, every movement in the car because you are on the limit for so long that you are able to feel everything from the car. It’s given me a lot more knowledge about the Indy car.”

Coverage for qualifying of the Iowa Corn 300 takes place at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday with race coverage Sunday at 5 p.m. ET.

Usain Bolt, Bill Clinton among headline guests for USGP at COTA

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The Circuit of The Americas paddock ahead of the United States Grand Prix may have been busy with teams and drivers preparing for lights out, but much of the attention lay with a number of headline guests including former presidents and Olympic champions.

As part of its plans to up the excitement levels ahead of Sunday’s grand prix and mirror other sporting events, F1’s new owner, Liberty Media, announced plans a couple of weeks ago to link up with iconic boxing announcer Michael Buffer and eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt for the pre-race festivities.

Ahead of today’s race in Austin, Buffer will introduce the drivers in a number of groups before offering the call for drivers to start their engines, similar to the pre-race procedure for the Indianapolis 500.

Honorary race starter Bolt, who competed in his last athletic world championship event in London earlier this year, will appear on the start line to complete his signature victory pose before waving the green flags to launch the formation lap.

Bolt was also treated to a hot lap around COTA by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton before the start of the formal pre-race build up program in Austin.

Liberty issued a list of celebrities and other public figures who are confirmed to be attending today’s race, including Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden and actor Owen Wilson among others.

One name that wasn’t on the list? 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, who quickly became a focus for the paddock upon arrival three hours before lights out.

The United States Grand Prix is live on NBC and NBC Sports app from 2pm ET today.