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F1 drivers: To grow sport in America, there need to be more races

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It’s an idea that has been kicked around more than a time or two: Given the size of the United States and the country’s appetite for racing, would it make sense to run two Grand Prixs in America?

Several Formula 1 drivers believe it would.

“We do have the one race and this is a big, big country with a lot of sporting heritage,” Lewis Hamilton said during this week’s press conference before the United States Grand Prix. “They love intensely-fought games but also have something to look forward to – because there’s a build-up to multiple games. We only have that one race here, so the people, for example in this city or people in the close States that fly over for this one Grand Prix, which happens once a year, it’s like a festival.

“You can’t really get too excited about one festival in a season. So, that’s probably something that Liberty will be working on for the future.”

The creation of Haas F1 has already provided Americans with a home team to back. In their third year of competition, the team is battling the more established Renault for fourth place in the constructors championship and gaining ground.

Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean agrees that more races in America are needed to increase fan participation and interest.

“Well, I think, to me the obviously, answer (to how to grow the sport in America) is to get more races in the US,” Grosjean said. “I think most of the time it’s really hard for the audience to watch the Grand Prixs. It’s the middle of the night. It’s not easy to grow the fan base.”

To go along with the US-based team, an American driver is necessary.

Throughout the history of the sport, there have been a handful of Americans who competed. Mario Andretti was the most prolific. His son Michael Andretti is one of the most recent.

Phil Hill is the only American-born driver to win the drivers championship. But he did that well back in 1961.

Try to get more races here, hopefully one American driver into F1 soon, and that will help,” Fernando Alonso said. “I think it will take a little bit of interest into the sport and have a little bit more unpredictable races is more or less what they have here. To have people expecting the unexpected until the end.”

To have a driver who speaks our language – and not just our language, but with the American version of English – is recognized to be important to Formula 1 drivers.

“Currently they don’t have an American driver. We can do our best to put on an accent and fill those boots,” Daniel Ricciardo said in his best approximation of a Texan accent. “I can try all I can – I don’t know how these boys can do it but I’ll give it a red-hot crack and see how we go.”

Well, maybe “talking like us” is not the most important thing.

IndyCar entry lists for Harvest GP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

IndyCar entry lists Indianapolis
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There are 25 drivers on the NTT IndyCar Series entry lists at Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course with a few new yet familiar faces for the Oct. 2-3 race weekend.

Four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais will make his season debut in the No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet (shifting Dalton Kellett to the No. 41) with AJ Foyt Racing, which he is joining full time next season. James Hinchcliffe, who had run three races with Andretti Autosport, will return in place of Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda. Helio Castroneves will drive Arrow McLaren SP’s No. 7 Dallara-Chevy for Oliver Askew, who is out with concussion-like symptoms.

Sage Karam, who has two IndyCar starts this year at IMS (the road course on July 4 and the Indy 500 on Aug. 23), also will return to the series in Dreyer & Reinbold’s No. 24 Dallara-Chevrolet.

HARVEST GP ENTRY LISTS: Friday l Saturday

Friday and Saturday of the Harvest GP presented by GMR will mark the second and third races this season on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. While the July 4 race on the circuit was 80 laps, Friday’s distance is 85 laps, and Saturday will be a 75-lap event.

Championship leader Scott Dixon led 26 of 80 laps to win the July 4 race at the IMS road course. With three races remaining in the series, the five-time series champion enters with a 72-point lead on Josef Newgarden.

Click here to see who’s on the IndyCar entry lists in Race 1 and in Race 2 for the Harvest GP presented by GMR at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.


START TIMES AND TV INFO FOR INDYCAR AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY ROAD COURSE (all times ET):

Thursday

IndyCar NTT Series practice: 2:25-3:40 p.m., NBC Sports Gold

IndyCar qualifying, Race 1: 6:20 p.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold

Friday

—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 1: 3:30 p.m. (green flag, 5 p.m.), USA Network, NBC Sports Gold

Saturday

—IndyCar qualifying: 10:20 a.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold

—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 2: 2:30 p.m (green flag, 2:31 p.m.)., NBC, NBC Sports Gold