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Verstappen edges clear in Mexico FP3 with Hamilton, Vettel close

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Max Verstappen edged clear of the field in the final Formula 1 practice session ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix as just one-tenth of a second covered the top three teams on Saturday morning at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Verstappen followed up Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo’s charge to P1 in FP2 by leading the way in FP3, turning in a fastest lap time of 1:17.113 in the final session ahead of qualifying later today.

Verstappen’s time gave him an edge of just 0.075 seconds over Hamilton, who finished second for Mercedes, while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was just 0.117s off P1 in third place.

The fight for pole looks poised to extend beyond the leading trio from final practice as Valtteri Bottas took fourth for Mercedes ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen, with the latter taking P6 despite being just four-tenths back from Verstappen at the front.

Force India stamped its authority on the fight to lead the midfield heading into qualifying as Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon finished seventh and eighth respectively, but the team looks set to be run close by Renault, who took P9 and P10 with Carlos Sainz Jr. and Nico Hulkenberg.

Romain Grosjean was able to go some way to making up for his lost time on Friday, completing 22 laps for Haas, but compatriot Pierre Gasly was less fortunate in the Toro Rosso as he suffered an engine failure just minutes into the session.

Despite the team’s best efforts to get the car fixed to head back out, Gasly ultimately finished the session with just two laps on the board, meaning he will enter qualifying with a mere 12 tours of the track under his belt.

Qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 2pm ET today.

IndyCar star Scott Dixon to test skills on ‘American Ninja Warrior’

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Scott Dixon will be the latest IndyCar driver to enter the realm of reality TV when he auditions in Indianapolis next week for “American Ninja Warrior.”

The four-time IndyCar champion, nicknamed “The Iceman,” thought it sounded fun when he was approached with the idea of trying out. As the competition has drawn near, Dixon is wondering what he got himself into.

“I feel a lot of pressure on this one,” Dixon told The Associated Press before heading to this weekend’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. “When it got to be about a month away, I figured I should start training for it, and it’s pretty hard stuff.”

IndyCar drivers Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden and Tony Kanaan all auditioned for the show, which follows competitors as they tackle a series of obstacle courses in qualifying rounds across the country. None of IndyCar’s contestants advanced out of the first round and neither did NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Dixon’s appearance comes about the same time the Game Show Network has Sebastien Bourdais as a guest host for “Daily Draw” for the entire week leading into the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Most recently, Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly teamed to finish fourth on “The Amazing Race,” and James Hinchcliffe was a runner-up last year on “Dancing With The Stars.” Castroneves is a former “DWTS” winner.

Dixon, the 2008 winner of the Indianapolis 500 who ranks fourth on IndyCar’s all-time wins list, is accustomed to success. But the New Zealander not so sure he’s going to become the next great ninja. Most of his fitness work focuses on endurance training, and preparing for the obstacle course has taken Dixon out of his element.

“It’s not my wheelhouse,” he said. “This is agility kind of stuff and I’m looking forward to the process. I’m not looking forward so much to the failure, because it’s going to happen at some point, so I guess I just have to make the most of it and enjoy the experience.”

Dixon was famously robbed at gunpoint in the drive-thru of a Taco Bell last year hours after he won the pole for the Indy 500. Asked if his ninja training will have him better prepared should that happen again, he did not think so.

“I suppose if I run away it would help,” Dixon said. “But I don’t exactly have a ninja toolkit to get me through that situation.”