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F1 on NBC team signs off after Abu Dhabi broadcast (VIDEO)

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Today’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix marks the final broadcast for the Formula 1 on NBC Sports team after five years and 98 Grands Prix.

Booth team of Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett took the opportunity to say thanks, then pay tribute to the most famous new podium celebration coined during this tenure – Daniel Ricciardo’s podium “shoey” – with a shoey of their own.

The final credits paid tribute to the entire crew, led by F1 coordinating producer Rich O’Connor, along with some of the best highlights over the last five years. That rundown is below.

NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton checked in just beforehand with his final report from the Yas Marina Circuit, which also provided a welcome opportunity for producer Jason Swales to appear on camera alongside.

On the grid itself, Buxton did his last grid walk, which is below.

Pre-race, Sam Posey’s final essay is called “The Best of The Best,” a look at the pair of four-time Formula 1 World Champions in Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. A collection of the best of Posey’s essays is linked here.

We’d be remiss to not thank a handful of others who also appeared on the F1 broadcasts in fill-in roles. Bob Varsha and Brian Till both filled in on occasion for Diffey alongside Hobbs and Matchett in the booth. James Allen and Townsend Bell both filled in for Buxton in the pits during 2016, as Buxton had lost his father – a nice piece from Will about the power of the F1 “family” is linked here.

And lastly, 1978 World Champion Mario Andretti joined the F1 on NBC team on a couple occasions, both in studio and at the live shows. Andretti bestowed some very high praise on the team in advance of the broadcast.

BREAKING: John Force taken to hospital after Phoenix eliminations crash

Photo courtesy NHRA
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16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force has been taken to a local hospital for evaluation and examination following a wicked crash with fellow Funny Car driver Johnnie Lindberg.

The crash occurred during the quarterfinals of Sunday’s final eliminations in the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix.

Force was headed for a win when the engine on his Peak Chevrolet Camaro blew up just as it crossed the finish line, destroying the body. Lindberg, meanwhile, lost traction about one-third of the way down-track, but then got back into the gas to try and catch Force.

Force appeared to lose control of the body-less car and went across from the left lane he was in to the right-hand lane, where he hit the retaining wall in front of Lindberg.

Lindberg tried to avoid Force, but couldn’t. To make matters worse, the body on Lindberg’s car then came off and Force’s and Lindberg’s cars got tangled up in Lindberg’s parachute, sending both chassis’ into the left retaining wall.

Lindberg emerged from his Funny Car under his own power and was checked at the medical center before heading back to his pit.

Force, meanwhile, was helped out of his mangled wreck by the NHRA Safety Safari and was transported by ambulance to the hospital due to the severity of the impact.

Even though Force will be credited with the round win, he obviously will not be able to continue for the remainder of the eliminations.

To add insult to injury, NHRA officials charged Force with oiling down the racetrack, his third of the season in just the first two races. That will cost him 15 points in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings and a fine of $4,000.

Here are several posts from social media, including video of the incident from NHRA:

This is the second time Force has had an engine explode and the body blew off in the last two weeks. He also wrecked during the qualifying Feb. 9 for the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. Here’s the video of that wreck:

MORE: John Force taken to hospital as a precaution after Funny Car motor explodes.

We’ll update Force’s condition when it becomes available.

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