Kimi Raikkonen set for 200th grand prix today

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Kimi Raikkonen will join an elite club of drivers in the history of Formula 1 when he races in his 200th grand prix in Montreal today.

The Finn made his debut back in 2001 for Sauber, and immediately shot to fame with a stunning first race in Australia where he finished sixth despite having only raced in single seaters 23 times beforehand. He joined McLaren for 2002 and remained with the British team until the end of 2006 before joining Ferrari.

Raikkonen enjoyed his finest hour in 2007, winning the drivers’ world championship by one point from Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. However, his form with Ferrari then nosedived in 2008, and at the end of 2009, he walked away from Maranello and Formula 1 altogether to try some other racing series such as rallying and even one NASCAR event.

In the fall of 2011, it was confirmed that Raikkonen would be returning to F1 in 2012 with Lotus alongside Romain Grosjean. He had an impressive comeback season, winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and finishing third in the drivers’ championship. Another win came at the beginning of 2013, but this would prove to be his last for the team. Towards the end of the year, his relationship soured with Lotus due to a lack of payment, and he left the team before the season’s end in order to have back surgery ahead of his return to Ferrari in 2014.

So far this year, the glorious comeback that many expected has failed to come about. The Finn currently sits 12th in the drivers’ standings with just 17 points, 44 less than teammate Fernando Alonso. Nevertheless, he has underlined his commitment to both Formula 1 and Ferrari.

For race #200, Kimi will start down in 10th place. Although he may not stand much chance of finishing on the podium, a good haul of points is certainly achievable in Canada. His passive and honest attitude is popular among the fans of the sport away from the track, while his on track achievements have been numerous; one world title appears to short change him slightly.

You can watch Raikkonen’s 200th race, the Canadian Grand Prix, live on NBC from 2pm ET, with the pre-race show starting on NBCSN at 1:30pm.

Josef Newgarden dominates from pole to win KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America

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There’s a reason why Josef Newgarden calls Road America his favorite racetrack – and he showed why Sunday, dominating to victory in the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc.

Newgarden led all but two laps from the pole and was in a class of his own throughout the 55-lap caution-free race on the 4.048-mile, 14-turn road course in central Wisconsin, defeating runner-up Ryan Hunter-Reay by 3.3759 seconds.

“(I wanted this one) really bad,” Newgarden told NBCSN in victory lane. “I wanted to win here since last year. This car has been a rocket all weekend. It wasn’t easy. Ryan was very quick and I knew Dixon was right behind him, so we were working for it the entire race.

“I kind of knew what I had to do, but it was a lot of work. Ryan was really pushing me. It’s good to get a win. It doesn’t matter what car, as long as it’s Team Penske.”

It was Newgarden’s series-leading third win of the season in the first 10 races (also won at ISM Raceway in Phoenix and Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama), pushing him past Team Penske teammate and Indy 500 winner Will Power and Scott Dixon, who both have two wins in the 2018 campaign.

“I was hoping to make it more interesting for the fans here at Road American and on TV,” Hunter-Reay said. “The last two stints, when he put on used red and I had blacks, he was really hooked up. … I was pushing 110 percent, that’s for sure.

“Unfortunately, I just couldn’t catch up to Josef. I was able to close up the gap a little bit here and there, but not like I was early in the race. He found his own way for sure. Definitely, the clean air out front helps, but hats off to him: he had a great race and deserves the win.”

Dixon finished third, followed by Takuma Sato, Robert Wickens, Graham Rahal, Simon Pagenaud, Spencer Pigot (his best finish of the season), Ed Jones and James Hinchcliffe.

Dixon (393 points) maintains the Verizon IndyCar Series points lead, Hunter-Reay (348) moved up two spots to second place, Alexander Rossi (tied with Hunter-Reay for second at 348) dropped one spot to third, Newgarden (343) climbed one spot to fourth and Will Power (328) dropped two spots to fifth in the standings.

“It’s so tight … so tough,” Dixon said. “The Verizon IndyCar Series, right now, the competition is through the roof. To get a podium these days is tough enough, yet to get a win. But we’ll keep pushing and see what we get.”

There was action right from the opening lap, including misfortune for Indianapolis 500 winner Will Power, who suffered engine issues that sent him to the pits after the opening lap.

After trying to work on his car in the pits, Power’s team pushed it back to the paddock to attempt further repairs, but those efforts failed and the car was retired.

Power was third in the IndyCar points standings coming into the race, 36 points behind series leader Scott Dixon. He finished last (23rd) in Sunday’s race and will likely drop to fifth in the standings.

“They replaced the exhaust, and it just blew straight back out,” Power told NBCSN’s Marty Snider. “So, there’s obviously something going on in there that’s gone wrong.

“I feel bad for all the guys. It’s just one of those things, you know – you’ll get that every now and then at some point. No good, but we’ll move on to the next one.”

Also, 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi had an issue with what appeared to be brakes- or suspension-related that resulted in a lengthy pit stop after 38 laps. Rossi finished 16th in the 23-car field.

“Hugely disappointing,” Rossi told NBCSN. “It was good enough for fourth … but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.”

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