First blood to Hamilton in Abu Dhabi as he tops FP1

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ABU DHABI – Lewis Hamilton has dealt the initial blow in the final showdown for the Formula 1 world championship in Abu Dhabi by topping the first free practice session at the Yas Marina Circuit today.

Hamilton heads into the final race of the year in Abu Dhabi with a 17-point lead over Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg at the top of the standings, and knows that a top two finish at Yas Marina will be enough for him to win a second championship.

However, with double points on offer for the final race of the year, Rosberg is still in with a chance of clinching his first title, but was forced to settle for second place during the first practice session on Friday afternoon. Hamilton’s lap of 1:43.476 was good enough to secure him top spot, with Rosberg 0.133 seconds further back.

With FP1 being run in day time, it is not representative of conditions that the teams can expect to encounter throughout the rest of the weekend. Nevertheless, they completed a good deal of running, ironing out any final issues that there might be with the cars.

Williams, Caterham and McLaren all hit trouble during the 90-minute session, costing them track time. After a piece of Valtteri Bottas’ sidepod came loose from his Williams heading down the back straight, he was pitted for repairs and did not complete any more than eight laps. Felipe Massa was also brought in with just seven laps on the board.

F1 debutant Will Stevens endured a difficult first session, suffering a technical failure that meant he could only head out to complete a flying lap in the final 15 minutes. He propped up the timesheets in 20th place with a fastest lap of 1:50.684.

Jenson Button’s session came to an early end when his car developed a technical issue, which even gave him time to tweet his frustration.

Ultimately though, Mercedes was the class of the field yet again, enjoying a 1.7 second advantage over Fernando Alonso in third place. Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth and fifth for Red Bull, with Jean-Eric Vergne finishing an excellent sixth for Toro Rosso.

Esteban Ocon enjoyed an impressive F1 weekend debut, lapping just three-tenths of a second shy of full-time driver Pastor Maldonado. Adderly Fong’s session for Sauber was less notable, though, as he finished 19th and 1.7 seconds behind Esteban Gutierrez.

Be sure to join us for FP2 live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8a ET today.

Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series triples to 34 races in 2023

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023
Xtreme Outlaw Series
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After hosting 10 rounds in 2022, the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series 2023 schedule will more than triple to 34 races. The 2022 season featured seven different winners in the first seven races, a female racer in Jade Avedisian as the only repeat winner and Zach Daum as the champion.

“Dirt Midget racing is a growing entity in American motorsports, and the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota is proud to drive further into the growth of the division with both a diverse and lucrative schedule for 2023,” newly appointed Series Director Tyler Bachman said in a press release. “From the kickoff at our first indoor event, to each of the new tracks we’re set to visit next year, it’s a lineup we know both our teams and fans will enjoy.”

The championship purse fund has also more than double with an increase of $42,000 to $80,000 in 2023. The champion will win $25,000. Last year, Daum pocketed $10,000.

In addition, the series will offer tow money to the top 12 in points. Six drivers attempted to qualify for all 10 races in 2022 with 89 drivers attending.

The series will begin on March 10 at Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin, Ill. and end the same place it did in 2022 at I-44 Riverside Speedway in Oklahoma City on October 15.

During the season, they will visit 21 tracks in 10 states.

Some highlights of the season include the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series pairing up with the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars in 2023 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo. in April for the Outlaw Showdown and again in August for the Ironman 55 weekend, as well as the creation of a five-day Midget Speedweek.

The Midget Speedweek will immediately follow the Ironman 55 with a swing through Pennsylvania and New York.

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023 Schedule

Friday, March 10 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Saturday, March 11 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Friday, March 31 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.

Saturday, April 1 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.
Friday, April 14 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Saturday, April 15 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.

Friday, May 5 | Humboldt Speedway | Humboldt, Kan.
Saturday, May 6 | 81 Speedway | Park City, Kan.
Tuesday, May 23 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.
Wednesday, May 24 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.

Thursday, June 1 | Tri-City Speedway | Pontoon Beach, Ill.
Friday, June 2 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.
Saturday, June 3 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.

Friday, July 21 | TBA
Saturday, July 22 | Southern Illinois Raceway | Marion, Ill.
Friday, July 28 | TBA
Saturday, July 29 | Atomic Speedway | Chillicothe, Ohio
Sunday, July 30 | Brushcreek Motorsports Complex | Peebles, Ohio

Friday, August 4 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Sat, August 5 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Tuesday, August 8 | Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway | Newmanstown, Pa.
Wednesday, August 9 | Action Track USA | Kutztown, Pa.
Thursday, August 10 | Linda’s Speedway | Jonestown, Pa.
Friday, August 11 | TBA
Saturday, August 12 | Bridgeport Motorsports Park | Swedesboro, N.J.
Friday, August 25 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa
Saturday, August 26 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa

Friday, September 1 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Saturday, September 2 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Friday, September 15 | Jacksonville Speedway | Jacksonville, Ill.
Saturday, September 16 | Red Hill Raceway | Sumner, Ill.

Friday, October 13 | Port City Raceway | Tulsa, Okla.
Saturday, October 14 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.
Sunday, October 15 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.

* Co-sanctioned with POWRi