© GP2 Series

GP2, GP3 titles set to be decided in Abu Dhabi

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While the battle for the Formula 1 drivers’ championship between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will take center stage in Abu Dhabi, two other titles are also set to be decided this weekend.

Both the GP2 and GP3 Series, the first and second rungs below F1 on the single-seater ladder, will crown new champions at Yas Marina as their seasons come to a close.

The battle for the GP2 title has been one of the closest in recent years, with Prema Racing teammates Antonio Giovinazzi and Pierre Gasly set to lock horns at Yas Marina.

Giovinazzi heads into the final round with a seven-point lead over Gasly, with 48 on offer across the Feature and Sprint races at Yas Marina.

Red Bull junior Gasly had been in the running for a seat in F1 with Toro Rosso for 2017, but was passed over in favor of retaining Daniil Kvyat.

The Frenchman is expected to remain part of Red Bull’s plans, with a move into the Japanese Super Formula series being mooted for 2017.

Giovinazzi could become the first rookie since Nico Hulkenberg in 2009 to win the GP2 title, but his future is also unclear. The Italian is not affiliated with any F1 team, although he did recently enjoy a run in Ferrari’s simulator at Maranello. His next move, for now, is hard to predict.

An outsider for the championship is ex-Ferrari junior Raffaele Marciello, but the 39-point gap to Giovinazzi means the odds are stacked well against the Italian.

Both the feature and sprint GP2 races are live on the NBC Sports app this weekend.

GP2 Abu Dhabi – Live Stream Times

FEATURE RACE Saturday 11/26 10:40am ET – LIVE STREAM/NBC Sports app
SPRINT RACE Sunday 11/27 6:20am ET – LIVE STREAM/NBC Sports app

In GP3, Ferrari youngster and Haas development driver Charles Leclerc could wrap up the series title on Saturday thanks to his 29-point advantage heading into the final double-header round.

Leclerc has enjoyed an impressive year spearheading ART Grand Prix’s domination in GP3, taking three wins. His nearest rival is teammate Alexander Albon, while Trident’s Antonio Fuoco also stands a chance of winning the title in Abu Dhabi.

Top Fuel driver Austin Prock earns 2019 NHRA top rookie honors

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Having just completed a promising first year in NHRA Top Fuel competition, Austin Prock is on the road to even greater drag racing success in his career.

That’s why it’s not surprising that Prock was named the winner of the 2019 Auto Club Road to the Future Award during Monday night’s annual NHRA Awards dinner at the Ray Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California.

The Road to the Future Award is NHRA’s version of Rookie of the Year, and Prock was among the brightest young stars on the circuit this past season, including winning his first national event at the Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in suburban Seattle, the 16th race on the 24-race schedule.

What made that first win all the more sweeter is it came at the same event that his boss, legendary 16-time Funny Car champion John Force, captured his milestone 150th career win.

One month ago, Prock set a personal best run of 3.688 seconds at 334.40 mph over veteran driver Doug Kalitta in the first round of eliminations at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals three weeks ago in Ennis, Texas (suburban Dallas).

“I am proud of the season this Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team put together,” Prock said in a media release. “My guys worked their asses off all season long to give me the opportunity to win the Auto Club Road the Future Award. I couldn’t have done it without them.

“I would have never been here without John Force and Robert Hight (president of John Force Racing). They gave me the opportunity to fulfill my dream and I owe the world to them. I hope I made them proud.”

Prock became only the 10th rookie in the history of the NHRA pro ranks to both win a race in their first season and also go on to win the Road to the Future award. He also was the 13th rookie in the sport’s history to qualify for the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six race playoffs.

Prock becomes the sixth John Force Racing driver to earn the Road to the Future Award, joining Tony Pedregon (1996), Hight (2005), Ashley Force-Hood (2007), Mike Neff (2008), Courtney Force (2012) and Brittany Force (2013).

Austin Prock is the son of veteran crew chief Jimmy Prock, who tuned Hight to his third career NHRA Funny Car championship this past Sunday.

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