WATCH LIVE: Australian GP Qualifying on NBCSN from 2a ET

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The moment of truth has arrived, as the first knockout qualifying session of 2015 is set to occur.

A year ago, Nico Rosberg took 11 pole positions to Lewis Hamilton’s seven, and after the pair paced the three pre-qualifying practice sessions in Albert Park, it seems likely one of the two Mercedes AMG Petronas drivers will draw first blood in qualifying for the season opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

You can watch qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix live on NBCSN from 2a ET on Saturday morning. CLICK HERE to watch via live stream on NBC Sports Live Extra.

Rosberg led FP1 and FP2 before Hamilton fought back in FP3. The Englishman and defending World Champion took top honors in the one-hour FP3 session Saturday morning, with a weekend-best thus far lap of 1:27.867.

While the Mercedes pair figure to battle for pole, the battle behind will remain intense to say the least. Williams Mercedes’ pairing of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa have shown strongly and Ferrari has improved – Sebastian Vettel made it up to an impressive second in FP3.

Meanwhile Red Bull look to recover from a ragged FP3 this morning which saw issues affect both hometown hero Daniel Ricciardo and new team driver Daniil Kvyat.

Again, that’s qualifying for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix coming up at 2a ET, following same-day delayed TV coverage of FP3 on NBCSN, with live stream link here.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”