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Felipe Nasr explores U.S. options in visit to IndyCar at Watkins Glen

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Ex-Sauber Formula 1 driver Felipe Nasr is making the rounds at this weekend’s INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen, as the 25-year-old Brazilian sorts out his next career move.

Nasr and Sauber parted ways late into last year’s offseason, and it’s left him looking for alternative options – one of which could be the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2018.

His Brazilian countryman, Helio Castroneves, has invited him to check out the scenery this weekend ahead of a potential arrival in 2018. Castroneves himself faces an uncertain future in IndyCar as he may not continue with Team Penske into 2018, and with the Team Penske and Acura Motorsports DPi program set to come online next season.

But beyond Castroneves, Nasr has also caught up with a few team members from Carlin, a team he drove for in Europe in the past.

“It was Helio that invited me! But I know the people from Carlin for many years though. Drive for British F3 and GP2 as well. So we have a good relationship and it’s good to see them doing well in Indy Lights,” Nasr told NBC Sports.

“This is my first weekend here. It’s good to have a look around. It’s a series that always caught my attention. I wanted to stay closely by. Helio will show me around. It’s interesting.”

Nasr identified IndyCar as one of a number of potential series options for next season.

“The thing is, everything was really late last year. The deal with Sauber wasn’t going to continue. That was December time,” Nasr explained.

“It was late to get in any other series. I’ve still driven other cars, other series this year. So I definitely will be racing next year, but not sure where yet. So why not have a look here? There might be something in the near future to do.

“I would say when I look at series out there, in IMSA, IndyCar, Formula E, the WEC, there’s all these series with great visibility and levels of competition.”

Although Nasr didn’t call Castroneves his mentor, per se, Castroneves has been an integral part of Nasr’s family life and upbringing.

He’s 42 while Nasr, who turned 25 last month, has only a little bit of U.S. experience – he starred with Michael Shank Racing as a Sunoco Challenge winner en route to third overall in the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“Helio probably knows me since I’m young! He did South American F3 with my dad’s team. If not, he’s one of the most experienced guys in the field. It’s nice to be looking around and meet a few people,” he said.

“He was very involved in my dad’s team early on. When he moved to do IndyCar, he’s done some solid years here. He always kept a great relationship with my family. When he invited me to come along, I thought it’d be nice.

“He’s one of the guys I want to be around. Basically he knows how everything works here. It’s kind of different. It’s a very strong field with very strong teams.

“I’m just here as a nice spectator. So Helio will be showing me around, and hopefully I can get a few more details about this series.”

WATCH LIVE: IndyCar practice and qualifying at Laguna Seca

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For the first time in 15 years, Indy cars will be racing at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, and the stakes have never been higher.

Tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Monterey is the final race of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season, and with four drivers mathematically eligible for the series championship, there will be plenty of story lines to follow.

Current series points leader Josef Newgarden enters this weekend with a 41-point lead over second-place Alexander Rossi.

A California native, Rossi attended his first IndyCar race with his father as child at Laguna Seca when he was three years old.

He now hopes to win his first IndyCar championship at the track where he fell in love with the sport, but after suffering a broken bolt in practice 1 yesterday, he will need to find speed in P3 and qualifying today in order to put himself in the best position to fight for the title.

Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon are also in contention to win the championship this weekend, and another title would only add to their already illustrious IndyCar careers.

Leigh Diffey, Paul Tracy and Townsend Bell will call today’s on-track action from the booth, while Marty Snider, Jon Beekhuis, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller will report from the pits.

Here is today’s schedule:

(All times are Eastern)

Saturday 9/21, 1 p.m. ET, IndyCar Practice 3, NBC Sports Gold 

Saturday 9/21, 4:30 p.m. ET, IndyCar Qualifying, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold

Saturday 9/21, 6 p.m. ET, Indy Lights Race 1, NBC Sports Gold 

 

For sessions on NBC Sports Gold, be sure to have your username and password handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.