Sauber’s Hulkenberg bracing for “close battle” with McLaren

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After qualifying seventh today for Sunday’s Airtel Indian Grand Prix (LIVE, 5 a.m. ET on NBCSN/NBC Sports Live Extra), Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg said he expects to have a “close battle” with the twin McLarens of Sergio Perez (qualified ninth) and Jenson Button (qualified tenth) in the opening stages of the race.

Both sides took opposite strategies in qualifying, with Hulkenberg using the soft compound and both Perez and Button using the harder medium compound.

“It will be interesting to see who comes out on top,” said Hulkenberg, who has collected 32 points over the last four races and grabbed eight of them with a sixth-place run last time out in Japan.

“In the race, we have to see how we get on with the soft tires, as they didn’t look too good in free practice yesterday. Since then, we have improved the car, so they should last a bit longer. The long runs on the medium tire looked good.”

Hulkenberg will look to keep up a solid second half of 2013, which, naturally, he’s been enjoying after a tough first half for himself and the entire Sauber camp.

“If you have a competitive car like we have now, you have to make the most of it and enjoy every moment,” he said. “We’ve come from a very different position at the beginning of the year, so it makes you realize how nice it is to be battling at the front.”

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.