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Hamilton: Matching Senna’s win tally “doesn’t feel real”

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Lewis Hamilton made no secret of his pride after matching the win tally of three-time Formula 1 world champion Ayrton Senna in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Hamilton grew up idolizing Senna, who left an indelible mark on the sport with his on-track antics, especially at Suzuka where he clashed twice with fierce rival Alain Prost.

After missing the opportunity to match Senna’s tally of 41 grand prix victories in Singapore last weekend, Hamilton bounced back at Suzuka by claiming a dominant win.

The Briton jumped Mercedes teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg off the line before leading the rest of the race, enjoying a buffer of almost 20 seconds at the finish.

Speaking on the podium after the race, Hamilton thanked his Mercedes team for bouncing back from his retirement in Singapore to win so comfortably at Suzuka, but admitted that matching Senna’s number of wins hadn’t really sunk in.

“I’m just so happy right now,” Hamilton said. “The team did a fantastic job this weekend. It’s great to be back up here as a team with a one-two.

“I had a great start. For me to come here to a race where I used to love watching Ayrton drive and to match his wins… I can’t really describe it. It doesn’t feel real at the moment.”

Hamilton felt that it was crucial for Mercedes to fight back from its defeat in Singapore and see off the threat of Ferrari in Japan, which it did with relative ease as Nico Rosberg completed a one-two finish.

“It definitely was important for us to strike back,” Hamilton said. “The Ferraris were incredibly quick in the last race. I guess we didn’t bring our A-game, so we really had to take a step back these last few days and make sure we brought it here.

“As I said, couldn’t have done it without this team, remarkable what they’ve done. The car was beautiful to drive today.”

Hamilton’s lead in the drivers’ championship now stands at 48 points with five rounds of the 2015 season remaining.

IndyCar entry lists for Harvest GP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

IndyCar entry lists Indianapolis
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There are 25 drivers on the NTT IndyCar Series entry lists at Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course with a few new yet familiar faces for the Oct. 2-3 race weekend.

Four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais will make his season debut in the No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet (shifting Dalton Kellett to the No. 41) with AJ Foyt Racing, which he is joining full time next season. James Hinchcliffe, who had run three races with Andretti Autosport, will return in place of Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda. Helio Castroneves will drive Arrow McLaren SP’s No. 7 Dallara-Chevy for Oliver Askew, who is out with concussion-like symptoms.

Sage Karam, who has two IndyCar starts this year at IMS (the road course on July 4 and the Indy 500 on Aug. 23), also will return to the series in Dreyer & Reinbold’s No. 24 Dallara-Chevrolet.

HARVEST GP ENTRY LISTS: Friday l Saturday

Friday and Saturday of the Harvest GP presented by GMR will mark the second and third races this season on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. While the July 4 race on the circuit was 80 laps, Friday’s distance is 85 laps, and Saturday will be a 75-lap event.

Championship leader Scott Dixon led 26 of 80 laps to win the July 4 race at the IMS road course. With three races remaining in the series, the five-time series champion enters with a 72-point lead on Josef Newgarden.

Click here to see who’s on the IndyCar entry lists in Race 1 and in Race 2 for the Harvest GP presented by GMR at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.


START TIMES AND TV INFO FOR INDYCAR AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY ROAD COURSE (all times ET):

Thursday

IndyCar NTT Series practice: 2:25-3:40 p.m., NBC Sports Gold

IndyCar qualifying, Race 1: 6:20 p.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold

Friday

—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 1: 3:30 p.m. (green flag, 5 p.m.), USA Network, NBC Sports Gold

Saturday

—IndyCar qualifying: 10:20 a.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold

—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 2: 2:30 p.m (green flag, 2:31 p.m.)., NBC, NBC Sports Gold