Red Bull GRC: Championship contenders Wiman, Block, Speed advance to Vegas final

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Three of the four Red Bull Global Rallycross title contenders did what they had to do in the semifinals of tonight’s season finale at The LINQ in Las Vegas.

Scott Speed (third, -27 points) finished second in the first semifinal behind Bucky Lasek to advance to the final, while Ken Block (second, -10 points) and points leader Joni Wiman did the same by finishing first and second respectively in the other semi.

But Nelson Piquet Jr. (fourth, -30 points) was forced to bow out of his semi after just one lap due to a reported gearbox problem on his Ford Fiesta ST. As a result, he will have to advance to the final out of the Last Chance Qualifier.

SEMIFINAL ONE

A pair of heat wins allowed Speed to move up to third in the standings prior to Semifinal One. Driving his new VW Beetle, Speed assumed the early lead but on the fourth of six laps, Lasek took the lead from the former NASCAR/F1 pilot coming out of the dirt jump. He then held off Speed the rest of the way.

Lasek pulled off the win despite being involved in a first-lap incident that had him make contact with Rhys Millen. Tanner Foust also sustained damage in the sequence of events and subsequently retired early. Steve Arpin – who was brought to a full stop by the melee but got going again – rallied to capture third place and the last transfer to the final.

SEMIFINAL TWO

Then came the second semi, which featured the other three drivers involved in the championship fight – Block, Wiman, and Piquet. But while Block and Wiman quickly shot to the front, Piquet was unable to launch off the start with the rest of the field.

After a few moments, Piquet finally got going but ultimately came to a stop off-course. Meanwhile, Block and Wiman pulled away and finished 1-2, with Patrik Sandell finishing third to join them in the final.

That sets up tonight’s LCQ at 9:20 p.m. ET. The Top 4 finishers there will go to the final at 10:35 p.m. ET.

REMINDER: Tonight’s GRC season finale will be broadcast Sunday, Nov. 16 at 1:30 p.m. ET on your local NBC station. The broadcast will also be streamed online and on mobile devices through NBC Sports Live Extra.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).