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Haas matches debut F1 season points total after nine races in 2017

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Romain Grosjean’s sixth-place finish in Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix saw Haas match its score from its debut Formula 1 season after just nine rounds of the 2017 campaign.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas took his eponymous F1 operation onto the grid in 2016, with Grosjean scoring all 29 of its points across the 21-race campaign.

Haas has made yet more progress through 2017, enjoying its first double-points finish earlier this year as Grosjean and new teammate Kevin Magnussen both impressed.

Grosjean enjoyed a perfect race in Austria on Sunday to finish sixth, trailing only the Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull drivers to win the midfield battle for Haas.

“It was pretty strong, really strong first lap,” Grosjean told NBCSN. “I was P4, enjoyed that for a little bit, but then Lewis [Hamilton] passed me.

“[I] focused on Perez, keeping him behind, and we pushed hard all the way, that’s the racing we like, hammering it down. Finished a bit tired but that’s what we love.

“It was a great race, great job from the guys, happy with the car all weekend long. There are a few things we need to improve clearly, but happy with that.

“We were the best of the rest. We won ‘Formula 1 Grand Prix 2′!”

The result saw Haas move on to 29 points in the constructors’ championship after just nine races, with the American team now sitting just four shy of Toro Rosso in sixth place.

An IndyCar iRacing Challenge at Talladega? Drivers have discussed it

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If Dale Earnhardt Jr. is interested in an IndyCar iRacing event on an oval, he might like the latest idea being kicked around by NTT Series drivers.

“I personally would want to run at Talladega, but I don’t think that’s an option,” Arrow McLaren SP driver rookie Oliver Askew told NBCSports.com in a Friday interview about his simulation work for the second round of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “IndyCar drivers have a group chat with iRacing, and someone had the idea of running at Talladega, and I thought it was brilliant.”

It actually would be a throwback of sorts as a USAC-sanctioned race with Indy cars at Talladega nearly happened 40 years ago.

The IndyCar iRacing Challenge will be running its second consecutive road course Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN or streaming here).

Of the four remaining races in the six-race series, there’s a chance that three of them could be ovals: A Drivers’ Choice track April 11; a “Random Draw” April 18 and a non-IndyCar “Dream” track May 2 (the April 25 race will be at Circuit of the Americas).

ENTRY LIST: Who will be racing at Barber

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IndyCar drivers are voting on next week’s track, and the options include high-speed ovals such as Texas Motor Speedway and Michigan Speedway.

A multicar crash at Talladega last October. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Talladega apparently isn’t on the list for next week, but surely it could be considered for a future race if it meant having Earnhardt in the field. The 15-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver is a six-time winner at Talladega, and the NASCAR on NBC analyst’s family is synonymous with the 2.66-mile oval where his late seven-time champion father won a record 10 times.

“I hope he can make that happen,” Askew said of racing against Earnhardt. “I hope IndyCar can grant his wish on that.”

The addition of Earnhardt would fit well with an IndyCar iRacing Challenge that already features champions from NASCAR (Jimmie Johnson) and Supercars (Scott McLaughlin).

Will Power would like to see more of that.

“I think that would be great if we can get big-name drivers from other series,” Power said. “Getting a couple guys from Europe would be cool.”