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Bourdais to attend Honda Indy Toronto this weekend

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Sebastien Bourdais will make his first trip to a race track since the Indianapolis 500, as he’ll join Dale Coyne Racing drivers Esteban Gutierrez and Ed Jones on site at this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, CNBC).

The Frenchman won the season-opening race of the year at St. Petersburg on a street course and followed it up with a runner-up finish at Long Beach.

After his crash at Indianapolis in qualifying where he sustained pelvic fractures and a hip injury, Bourdais made it back to the track at the ‘500 race morning for his first formal media availability.

Bourdais posted last week he was walking again, which was awesome to witness.

Now, he’ll attend Toronto – a track he’s won at before, most recently in 2014 with KVSH Racing – to support the team’s pair of rookies as they’ll look to succeed in their final street course starts of the year.

Gutierrez made his debut in IndyCar at the Detroit double while Jones has three top-10 finishes in four street course starts (10th at St. Petersburg, sixth at Long Beach, ninth at Detroit race one).

“It’s been an incredible challenge so far to jump from a street course, to a road course to a short oval and now back to a street course,” said Gutierrez, who finished an impressive 13th in his oval debut at Iowa.

“Three different types of racing in a very short period of time, but it’s been very fun.  Now for Toronto, I don’t know a lot about the track as I’ve never been there before but I’ve been told that it’s very bumpy! It will be important to have a stable car over the bumps, so hopefully we can find a good set up.”

Jones, who has finished fifth, third, sixth and fifth in four Indy Lights starts in Toronto, looks for a bounce back weekend after a tough result in Iowa, where he qualified eighth but lost the balance and finished 18th. He’s also battling a left foot injury.

“Toronto is one of my favorite races on the calendar even if I didn’t do that great there in Indy Lights,” said the Dubai-based Brit. “It’s a difficult track and very bumpy. It’s also very technical and tight in some sections so all that combined makes it very tricky but I can’t wait to get on track.

“It will be interesting to see how I get on after struggling at Detroit, but we were good at St. Petersburg and Long Beach. I’m hoping my foot will be better when we get there because there is much more braking than this last weekend in Iowa, but it should be alright. I’ll be resting it up this week.”

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.