Mario Andretti visits Monza for the first time since 1983

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Racing legend and 1978 Formula 1 world champion Mario Andretti returned to Monza today for the first time in 31 years, bringing an American feel to the paddock in promotion of the United States Grand Prix.

Andretti last came to Monza in 1983, but it is a track that holds great significance. This is where he first watched a Formula 1 race in 1954, and also where he clinched the 1978 world championship. However, on the same weekend as his title victory, his teammate and close friend Ronnie Peterson was killed in an accident. Coming back to Monza fills Andretti with mixed emotions, and he spoke about this during a track walk with NBCSN’s Will Buxton which you can watch during our broadcast this weekend.

This weekend, he is back in town to promote the United States GP which will be held at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas this November. Appropriately, he has brought a number of Stetson hats with him, which were given out to the drivers in the paddock on Thursday.

Andretti also commentated on a sim race between Buxton and Force India’s Sergio Perez later in the day (and yes, Force India, that’s something we thought you would never tweet).

Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Alexander Rossi, Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel, Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Eric Vergne were just some of the drivers to chat with Andretti and don a Stetson. Check out some of the pictures below.

The United States Grand Prix takes place at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas between October 31st and November 2nd. For more information, be sure to visit www.circuitoftheamericas.com.

Jack Miller wins MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his points slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.