© Getty Images

What To Watch For: United States GP (NBC, Live Extra from 2:30pm ET)

Leave a comment

After a weekend of rain, rain and more rain, we’ve made it: United States Grand Prix race day, and the possible coronation of a three-time world champion.

Lewis Hamilton arrived in Austin knowing that victory with teammate Nico Rosberg in second place would clinch him a third world title with three races to spare, but heads into the race as blind as the rest of the field after seeing FP2 and Q3 get washed out completely.

The rain is set to subside before the race, and although the drivers will unquestionably be running on wet and intermediate tires (the latter at a push), the grand prix is going to happen.

It was Rosberg who seized the advantage in qualifying earlier today, posting the fastest time in Q2 and taking pole after Q3 was cancelled. Hamilton will start alongside him on the front row of the grid, with the Red Bull duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat looming behind.

You can watch the United States Grand Prix live on NBC and Live Extra from 2:30pm ET on Sunday. CLICK HERE to watch via live stream.

2015 United States Grand Prix – What To Watch For

THREE THE MAGIC NUMBER FOR LEWIS

Lewis Hamilton’s task today has been made simpler by the fact that closest title rival Sebastian Vettel has a grid penalty, leaving him 14th for the start. As such, beating Nico Rosberg should be enough to clinch him a third world title in Austin – and that’s hardly something he’s struggled to do this year.

A third world title would put him on par with Ayrton Senna and Jackie Stewart, and also make him the first British driver to successfully defend the championship. As I wrote earlier this week, winning it on US soil will only make things all the sweeter.

As an aside: Hamilton has never won a world title in sunshine. Interlagos 2008 was a downpour, and Abu Dhabi was won under the night sky. Number three could be another wet one if he clinches it today.

CAN NICO END HIS DROUGHT?

Using the word “drought” in Austin this weekend is irony personified. Alas, Nico Rosberg enters today’s race hoping to end a win drought that dates all the way back to the Austrian Grand Prix in June, some four months ago.

The German driver has struggled to match Hamilton in recent weeks, and although victory here would only be delaying the inevitable title success for his teammate, Rosberg will be hungry to end the rut at COTA.

RED BULL UP FOR A FIGHT

Mercedes may still be top dogs even in wet conditions, but Red Bull showed in qualifying that it could put up a fight to the Silver Arrows at the front. Both Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat have ran well in the wet before, and from the second row of the grid, they could yet spring a surprise.

For Ricciardo, it will be important for him to pick up some big points in what has been a difficult season. Slipping behind Kvyat in the drivers’ championship will have done little to help his standing in F1, and although the smile will remain, he needs to unleash his inner Honey Badger soon.

RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY

Although the rain is set to ease during the race, conditions will still be treacherous at the start, setting the stage for an almighty battle between the drivers out on track. Real ‘wet’ races in F1 have been quite sparse in recent years – let’s hope today’s US GP makes up for that.

Quite how the weather will have affected attendance figures remains unclear, but it’s hard to believe the three-day figure of over 250,000 will get even close to being matched this year. Austin has kept its smile regardless, though, which has been wonderful to see.

ROSSI AT HOME

After all these years, Alexander Rossi will finally race in the United States Grand Prix today. The American driver becomes the first to race at home since Scott Speed back in 2007, and will be hoping to use the weather to his advantage in his star-spangled Manor.

That said, this has been about as ‘Alexander Rossi’ a weekend as you could have imagined: lots of promise, only for something to get in the way (namely the weather). Regardless of his end result at COTA, today is arguably the biggest of his career to date.

STARTING GRID FOR THE 2015 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX

1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
3. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
4. Daniil Kvyat Red Bull
5. Sergio Perez Force India
6. Nico Hulkenberg Force India
7. Felipe Massa Williams
8. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso
9. Fernando Alonso McLaren
10. Romain Grosjean Lotus
11. Jenson Button McLaren
12. Pastor Maldonado Lotus
13. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari*
14. Marcus Ericsson Sauber
15. Valtteri Bottas Williams*
16. Felipe Nasr Sauber
17. Alexander Rossi Manor
18. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari*
19. Will Stevens Manor*
20. Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso**

* grid penalty
** missed 107% cut, given dispensation to race by stewards

The United States Grand Prix is live on NBC and Live Extra from 2:30pm ET on Sunday.

Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen finish 1-2 at High Point, tie for points lead

Rich Shepherd, ProMotocross
Leave a comment

Time was running off the clock and Eli Tomac was going to give up the overall win to Ken Roczen, until the Colorado native dug deep and made the pass for second in Moto 2 at High Point Raceway at Mount Morris, Penn. Roczen would win his third Moto of the season, but Tomac won the war.

With a third-place finish in Moto 1 and his second in Moto 2, Tomac grabbed the overall victory for the second time this season in Round 4 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross championship.

For Tomac, it was another difficult start to the race. He tipped his bike over in Moto 1 and fell back to fifth while battling two seconds behind the leader Blake Baggett. Tomac had to battle his way back toward the front again after barely cracking the top five in the first Motos in two of the first three rounds.

Roczen fared even worse in Moto 1. He finished sixth in that race – more than 34 seconds behind the leader Baggett. Determined to make up for his bad start, Roczen charged through the field in Moto 2 and took the lead from Cooper Webb on Lap 9.

“I was just going to charge,” Roczen told NBC Sports after his Moto win. “Do the best I can. I went back to my Colorado (last week) settings because the first race was awful; I couldn’t even ride.”

Tomac entered the round two points behind Roczen and was able to make up only those two points. The battle continues onto Florida next week with a tie for the top spot.

With a 2-5, Jason Anderson grabbed third overall.

Battling back from injury, Anderson faded in the closing laps of Moto 2, but is regaining strength each week.

Webb (third) and Zach Osborne (fourth) rounded out the top five in Moto 2 and finished fourth and fifth respectively overall.

Moto 1 featured a rider searching for his first Moto win in two years. Baggett earned the holeshot and held off an early advantage by Tomac. When Tomac fell, it handed second to Anderson, who finished nearly 10 seconds behind the leader.

“Every time I get out front here, I have that weird sensation of trying to keep it on two wheels,” Baggett said on NBC Sports Gold following his win.

Tomac was not the only rider to go down in Moto 1. Webb lost his pegs on Lap 9 and became the cape to his KTM motorcycle as he flew along holding tight to the handlebars. He recovered in that race to finish seventh.

450 Moto 1 Results
450 Moto 2 Results
450 Overall Results
Points Standings

Adam Cianciarulo remains perfect in the 250 class. Winning Moto 2 in each round so far this season, Cianciarulo has capitalized on his late event surges to sweep Victory Lane in the first four weeks.

It wasn’t an easy run for Cianciarulo, nonetheless. He was only fifth at the end of Lap 1 in Moto 1 and was forced to slice through the field to get to second at the checkers of that race.

“Just coming to the races now – coming to outdoor nationals now – compared to the past, it’s just an entirely different vibe,” Cianciarulo said on NBCSN after the race. “It’s like I’m experiencing it for the first time because for the first time in my whole pro career I believe in myself.

“It’s a process when you hit rock bottom and start coming back.”

Hunter Lawrence stole the show in Moto 1. Earning his first career win handily, he came out in Moto 2 and proved it was not a fluke by finishing third in the race and taking second overall.

“It’s awesome,” Lawrence said on NBC Sports Gold following his Moto 1 victory. “It’s just a Moto win, but it’s a big milestone in our trip and campaign.”

Chase Sexton earned the holeshot in Moto 1, but faded to fourth at the end. Sexton kept Cianciarulo in sight in the back half of Moto 2 to finish second in the race and third overall.

With a 3-4, Dylan Ferrandis finished fourth overall with Colt Nichols (5-5) finishing fifth.

After losing the overall at Thunder Valley amidst controversy, Justin Cooper wanted to make a statement. He barely raised his voice with a sixth in Moto 1 and a ninth in Moto 2 to finish ninth overall.  He lost another 20 points to the points leader as Cianciarulo starts to edge away from the pack. Cooper remains second in the points, but is now 26 back.

Garrett Marchbanks went down hard on Lap 4 of Moto 1 and had the bike land on his head. He did not start Moto 2, but there have been no report of injury yet.

250 Moto 1 Results
250 Moto 2 Results
250 Overall Results
Points Standings

Moto Wins

450MX
[4] Eli Tomac (Hangtown II, Pala I & Pala II, Thunder Valley II)
[3] Ken Roczen (Hangtown I, Thunder Valley I, High Point II)
[1] Blake Baggett (High Point I)

250MX
[4] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown II, Pala II, Thunder Valley I, High Point II)
[3] Justin Cooper (Hangtown I, Pala I, Thunder Valley I)
[1] Hunter Lawrence (High Point I)

Next race: WW Ranch Motocross Park, Jacksonville, Fla. June 22

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter