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Massa honored with son on radio, special podium after P7 in Brazil

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Felipe Massa’s ultimate final Brazilian Grand Prix, run today for Williams Martini Racing, made up for with a result what last year’s emotion-laden send-off in the rain lacked.

After crashing out in the rain in 2016 and then walking down pit lane to cheers and applause from his home crowd in Sao Paulo, Massa more than made up for it on track this afternoon following a spirited fight to P7 – best of the rest today behind the top six finishers from Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull.

Massa’s race, after starting 10th, saw him escape the first lap carnage that took Esteban Ocon, Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne out of contention and move ahead of Fernando Alonso into fifth place, with Alonso sixth.

The two former Ferrari teammates sparred from there, Massa holding off Alonso for the bulk of the rest of the race despite Alonso’s Honda-powered McLaren appearing to have better balance and pace in the infield section.

However it was the Mercedes-powered Williams that held the advantage on the straights and Alonso was unable to make a pass of Massa for seventh. While seventh isn’t much to celebrate, it was Massa’s second-best result this year, after coming sixth in both Australia and Bahrain in March and April. The result gave Massa six points and also slots him back ahead of Lance Stroll for 10th in the driver’s championship.

Massa’s send-off this go-around lacked the pure spontaneous moment that 2016’s did, but it was still no less sweet.

To start off, son Felipinho offered a special message of thanks to his dad over the team radio as he crossed the line, which gave the usually prickly Formula 1 paddock “all the feels.”

“Daddy, I’m so proud of you, and wherever you go I will support you. By the way, I loved your start!” the younger Massa enthused over the radio (at 2:04 in the above clip).

That was followed up a thumbs up from Alonso as he entered parc ferme, an embrace of his Williams crew and teammates, and a salute to the home crowd.

“I’m happy for him. Zero mistakes. I tried to put pressure on him. Hopefully he has a great future in another category and a happy life,” Alonso told NBCSN post-race.

Then he got another special sign-off – a surprise trip to the podium after the top three had completed their interviews, with the most experienced F1 driver in history in countryman Rubens Barrichello.

“I’m really emotional today because of all of you guys,” the senior Massa said. “Thank you for everything we’ve done together. All the support.

“There was all the energy I felt today for making the best race I could. To be honest I’m so happy for my race, did the best with what the car could achieve. Even the people I didn’t work together with, I love you guys.”

Massa’s next racing move following the end of his F1 career after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in two weeks is yet-to-be-determined. Speaking to NBCSN this weekend, he ruled out an IndyCar switch, but has still been linked to potential drives in the FIA Formula E Championship and FIA World Endurance Championship down the road.

As far as encores to end in Brazil though, this was a good one for a driver who once again had given it his all.

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.