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F1 United States Grand Prix on NBC, NBCSN, App this week

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Formula 1 kicks off its last back-to-back run of races this weekend with the sixth United States Grand Prix to be held at Circuit of The Americas in Austin this week, before the Mexican Grand Prix next week.

Expanded TV coverage comes this weekend on NBC, NBCSN and the NBC Sports App.

All sessions will air live. For Friday and Saturday sessions, free practice one live on NBCSN Friday at 11 a.m. ET, free practice two live on the NBC Sports App Friday at 3 p.m. ET (encore on NBCSN at 11 p.m. ET), free practice three live on the app Saturday at noon ET with an encore airing on NBCSN at 4 p.m. ET, leading straight into live qualifying at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN, followed by extended post-qualifying coverage.

On race day, live coverage begins with an hour pre-race occurs with F1 Countdown at 2 p.m. ET on NBC leading to lights out and the race at 3 p.m. ET. Post-race coverage continues on NBC from 5 p.m. ET.

Potentially, two World Championships could be clinched, as Lewis Hamilton has an outside shot to wrap up his fourth driver’s championship and Mercedes AMG Petronas has an excellent shot to secure its fourth straight constructor’s championship.

Hamilton can win the title by winning the race and hoping Sebastian Vettel is sixth or worse, or coming second and hope Vettel is ninth or worse. At a 59-point lead, Hamilton can wrap the title provided he leaves Austin with at least a 75-point lead.

The scenario is easier for Mercedes, which already holds a 145-point lead over Scuderia Ferrari and only needs a 129-point gap to clinch the title three races early.

Hamilton and the United States have a special relationship and so it’s shown in the six U.S. races he’s competed in over his career – he’s won five of them.

After a win in the last U.S. race at Indianapolis in 2007, he’s gone four-of-five at COTA with wins in 2012 (McLaren) and now the last three in a row with Mercedes (2014-2016). Only in 2013 was Hamilton off the podium, ending fourth. A sixth win in the U.S. would also make him the most successful F1 race winner in this country; he’s currently tied with Michael Schumacher on five wins in the U.S. apiece.

Vettel, who won that 2013 race with Red Bull, is the only other active U.S. Grand Prix winner in the field. After a nightmare Asian swing along with Ferrari, and having lost the win to Hamilton at Austin in dramatic circumstances in the late stages of 2012, he must have a trouble-free weekend if he’s to keep his remote title hopes alive. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen has had a horrible run of results at COTA, sixth with Lotus in 2012 before being injured in 2013, 13th in 2014 with Ferrari and retiring each of the last two U.S. races.

Red Bull Racing is on a roll with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen both off back-to-back podiums, Verstappen having finally broken his hex of bad luck and unreliability with a famous win in Malaysia. Verstappen starred in the rain in Austin in 2015, coming fourth for Toro Rosso, as he looks for his first U.S. podium. Ricciardo has been an honorary American for years with his presence in California off-and-on, and has spoke lovingly of his appreciation for Austin and its barbecue.

Elsewhere Fernando Alonso races back on U.S. soil with the same helmet as he did for his Indianapolis 500, but his odds of success are longer with this McLaren Honda package. Teammate Stoffel Vandoorne has done well of late, though.

Then there’s three other drivers to monitor as Carlos Sainz Jr. makes his debut at Renault, and Toro Rosso switches up its lineup with Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race benching and Brendon Hartley making his surprise F1 debut in the second seat. A three-time FIA World Endurance Championship winner at COTA, Hartley is a Porsche factory driver who may well impress as the first New Zealander to race in F1 since Mike Thackwell in 1984.

Here’s the F1 schedule, with stream links and TV network if applicable:

  • Practice 1: Friday, Oct. 20, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 2: Friday, Oct. 20, 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Practice 2 (Replay): Friday, Oct. 20, 11 p.m.-12:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 3: Saturday, Oct. 21, 12 p.m.-1 p.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Practice 3 (Replay): Saturday, Oct. 21, 4 p.m.-5 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Qualifying: Saturday, Oct. 21, 5 p.m.-7 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Pre-Race: Sunday, Oct. 22, 2 p.m.-3 p.m. ET (NBC)
  • Race: Sunday, Oct. 22, 3 p.m.-5 p.m. ET (NBC)
  • Post-Race: Sunday, Oct. 22, 5 p.m.-6 p.m. ET (NBC)
  • Race (Replay): Sunday, Oct. 22, 9 p.m.-11 p.m. ET (NBCSN)

The next race is the Mexican Grand Prix, on October 29.

Eli Tomac wins Budds Creek, clinches 2019 championship

Vanessa O'Brien (KawasakiUSA)
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Last week Eli Tomac suffered through his worst race of the season and gave Ken Roczen and Marvin Musquin a glimmer of hope were the championship was concerned.

On Lap 1 of Moto 1, Tomac did his best to dash that hope. Justin Bogle grabbed the hole shot, but Tomac swept past him immediately and surged to victory.

Moto 2 was much the same. Tomac grabbed the early lead and set his sights on earning maximum points for the weekend. By the end of Moto 2, Tomac had a 15 second lead over Jason Anderson to score his third perfect victory of the season. Tomac also scored a 1-1 at Pala and Washougal.

That was not Tomac’s only victory, however.

With two minutes remaining in Moto 2, Anderson and Marvin Musquin passed Ken Roczen.  That dropped Roczen to 54 points behind Tomac at the time and only elevated Musquin to a 50-point differential. Musquin needed one more position to be able to deny Tomac the championship for one more week, but he was 10 second behind Anderson and unable to make up the gap by the end.

“I didn’t know (I had won the championship) until the last lap,” Tomac said after the race. “I thought I needed one more spot on everyone. I’m just in complete shock right now. All we did today was put our head forward (and) put last week in the past. … Gosh what a way to finish it off. 1-1; it was so cool.”

Tomac is the first rider to win three consecutive championships since Ricky Carmichael won six in a row from 2000-2006.

In Moto 1, Tomac narrowly edged his two points’ rivals. Roczen finished second in that race with Musquin in third.

“It was so special,” Tomac said after he was handed the No. 1 plate that he will affix to his Kawasaki throughout next season. “So many things had to go our way this weekend with having a 1-1 and beating the two guys behind us in second and third (in Moto 1).

Anderson’s pass on Roczen late in Moto 2 was significant for another reason. With a 4-2, he scored a second overall to stand on the podium for the fourth time this season. In doing so, he matched his best finish from RedBud.

“For me, I’m just trying to build my base going into the next Supercross season,” Anderson said afterward. “I feel like I’m getting better.”

Finishing third in both motos was bittersweet equaled a third overall for Musquin. He climbed to second in the points with that finish and if he is able to stay there following next week’s Ironman, it will be the third straight year that he has finished behind Tomac.

Roczen faded to seventh in Moto 2 and with his 2-7 he finished fourth overall. It was a fitting end to his championship hopes because Roczen has faded at the ends of events all season long.

Zach Osborne (5-4) rounded out the top five.

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

It’s fair to call Shane McElrath’s 1-1 victory a surprise. Perhaps one can even go so far as to call it a shocker. Entering Budds Creek, McElrath had not stood on the podium yet this year. In fact, he has only one top-five finish that came at Spring Creek two weeks ago.

McElrath got off to an early lead in Moto 1, passing then-leader Ty Masterpool on Lap 3 and refusing to look over his shoulder. It was his first moto victory since Washougal last year and there was speculation about whether he could match that performance. If anything, McElrath looked even better in Moto 2 and he cruised to a 7.7 second lead at the checkers.

McElrath may have been the only rider who was not surprised by the performance and he summed up the drastic uptick in his post-race interview.

“One word: just perseverance,” McElrath said. “It’s been a real test of our faith this year. A real test of our strength. It’s been humbling for sure. … My results this year haven’t been what we wanted, but we just kept at it.”

With a 2-5, Adam Cianciarulo finished second overall despite a disappointing second moto.

He was much better in Moto 1, but even that race had drama. Four minutes into Moto 1, Cianciarulo rode off course and high sided on a berm. He dropped from second to fifth. He climbed into third by Lap 6, but it took the entire race before he would reclaim second.

At the end of Moto 1, Cianciarulo was optimistic about his weekend.

“I’m just doing the best I can,” Cianciarulo said on NBC Sports Gold. “I just want a good result on the day and that’s how I’m looking at it, taking it moto by moto. I’m just disappointed in how I rode there at the beginning.

“Masterpool was riding really good and I just got out of my rhythm. The track’s really slick so you can’t override it – and I really was – I just wasn’t riding good. But I’m glad I was able to calm down and take a breath, make some passes back – get to where I needed to be.

“Championship aside, I really want to do the best I can every moto. … If I leave it all out there, whether I win or lose, I can go to bed at night and sleep just fine.”

Justin Cooper ended the day with a 6-2, which was good enough for third overall. It was not good enough to keep his title hopes alive, however. Ending the day 60 points behind Cianciarulo, he has been mathematically eliminated from contention.

Dylan Ferrandis is now the only rider who can challenge Cianciarulo, but he needs to make up six points in Moto 1 at Ironman Raceway next week to keep the pressure on. Like Cianciarulo, Ferrandis’ day was not without incident. In Moto 2, Mitchell Falk got turned around early in the race and knocked Ferrandis down while he was running 11th at the time – one position behind Cianciarulo.

The two points leaders were able to slice through traffic and Ferrandis eventually prevailed over his rival, but he could manage only a fourth-place finish at the checkers. With a 4-4, he finished fourth overall.

RJ Hampshire (3-8) rounded out the top five.

In Moto 1, Masterpool led his first professional laps. He paced the field five times before McElrath overtook him. Masterpool maintained a top-three spot for the next three laps. He finished seventh in that race and 11th in Moto 2 for an eighth overall.

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

Moto Wins

450MX
[10] Eli Tomac (Hangtown II, Pala I & Pala II, Thunder Valley II, WW Ranch II, RedBud I, Washougal I & II, Budds Creek I & II)
[5] Ken Roczen (Hangtown I, Thunder Valley I, High Point II, Unadilla I & II)
[3] Marvin Musquin (WW Ranch I, The Wick I, RedBud II)
[2] Cooper Webb (Spring Creek I & II)
[1] Blake Baggett (High Point I)
[1] Zach Osborne (The Wick II)

250MX
[7] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown II, Pala II, Thunder Valley I, High Point II, The Wick I, Spring Creek II, Unadilla I)
[7] Dylan Ferrandis (WW Ranch II, The Wick II, RedBud I & II, Washougal I & II, Unadilla II)
[3] Justin Cooper (Hangtown I, Pala I, Thunder Valley I)
[2] Hunter Lawrence (High Point I, Spring Creek I)
[2] Shane McElrath (Budds Creek I & II)
[1] Chase Sexton (WW Ranch I)

Next race: Ironman Raceway, Crawfordsville, IN, August 24

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

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