NFL legends join NASCAR stars in NBC Sports’ upcoming “Gridiron Challenge” (VIDEO)

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NBC Sports’ NASCAR Gridiron Challenge presented by Toyota, a one-hour special pairing NASCAR drivers with former NFL greats in a series of stock car races and a football challenge, debuts Friday, January 30, at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN, immediately following the NASCAR America Hall of Fame Special.

A capsule from the Gridiron Challenge will air as part of NBC’s Super Bowl XLIX pre-game show on Sunday, February 1, beginning at Noon ET.

The Gridiron Challenge features six retired NFL greats, including NBC Super Bowl XLIX pre-game analyst Hines Ward, suiting up to compete in races alongside current NASCAR stars at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Ward will be teamed up with Joe Gibbs Racing driver Carl Edwards. The other driver/player combos are: Matt Kenseth (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Doug Flutie; Denny Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Brian Mitchell; Clint Bowyer (Michael Waltrip Racing) and Christian Okoye; Daniel Suarez (Joe Gibbs Racing – XFINITY Series) and Willie Gault; and Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Rod Smith.

The NFL legends will learn to drive official Toyota race cars at the Richard Petty Driving Experience, while the group of NASCAR drivers will take part in a passing competition where they must throw footballs through a Toyota target.

The series culminates with a 20-lap race, where the former NFL players will sit in the passenger seat alongside NASCAR drivers as they race around the track at speeds up to 180 miles per hour.

“The NASCAR Gridiron Challenge is a fun way to promote NASCAR and our upcoming coverage,” said Sam Flood, Executive Producer of NBC Sports and NBCSN, in a NBC Sports Group release. “This event serves as an example of how numerous NBCUniversal platforms are using Super Bowl XLIX weekend to promote new programming.”

“Toyota has had a long-standing relationship with NASCAR as well as a presence in the Super Bowl with TV commercials and our sponsorship of the Toyota Halftime Report,” said Ed Laukes, Vice President of Marketing, Performance and Guest Experience for Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc.  “The NASCAR Gridiron Challenge was a natural partnership for us and we think everyone will enjoy seeing these two very different groups of athletes compete in an entirely new, and fun, way on the track and on the field.”

NASCAR on NBC lead announcer Rick Allen will call the action from Charlotte Motor Speedway, alongside NBC Sports Group’s motorsports team of NASCAR Hall of Fame drivers Jeff Burton and Kyle Petty, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s former crew chief Steve Letarte, and NASCAR America reporter Kelli Stavast. In addition, NASCAR team owner and three-time Super Bowl-winning head coach Joe Gibbs will be present to give tutelage, and award the winners with their trophies.

Red Bull driver Verstappen wins Formula One’s Brazilian GP

NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP via Getty Images
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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won Formula One’s Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday for his eighth career victory in a race which ended disastrously for both Ferrari drivers.

Verstappen controlled nearly all the race at Interlagos, which saw a dramatic late collision between Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc when they fought for the fourth position. Both failed to finish.

Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly got his first F1 podium after finishing second ahead of six-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes driver was third but faces an investigation after an incident that caused Red Bull’s Alexander Albon to spin.

Hamilton, who won at Interlagos in 2018, said Verstappen was “just quicker than us on the straights” and “there was nothing more we could do.”

Dutch driver Verstappen said “Lewis was very quick so I had to keep pushing… we had two good moves with him, and from there onward I could control the race.”

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz was fourth, and could be promoted to third if Hamilton is punished.

The Brazilian GP on Sunday was the penultimate race of the season, with only Abu Dhabi left on Dec.1.

Hamilton had already secured the season title in the previous race in the United States. His Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who did not finish the race, had also secured the runner-up spot.