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Max Verstappen opens up on Lewis Hamilton private chat after breaking Schumacher’s record

Lewis Hamilton won the Portuguese Grand Prix to break Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 victories in the sport. The current F1 world champion beat his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas to take the win and make history in the sport.

After the race Red Bull star Max Verstappen revealed he had spoken with Hamilton about the record.

The Dutchman joked he would need to race until he is 40 to have any chance of beating the 92 wins Hamilton now has.

The win in Portugal means Hamilton is now 77 points clear of Bottas and closing in on his seventh world championship.

“We were just talking about it,” laughed Verstappen.

“Lewis said he keeps pushing because he wants to set it [the bar] very high. I have to work very hard to try and get there.

“I mean, it’s amazing. It’s just an incredible achievement. 92 victories and I don’t think it stops there.

“It will go to well over 100. He is pushing me to go until I’m 40 years old or something! It’s a good motivation, anyway.”

Verstappen thinks the consistency Hamilton shows is the most impressive thing about the F1 world champion.

He added: “I think, to Lewis, it’s incredible. He’s also going for his seven world titles, which is very impressive.

“Everyone knows he is very quick, but I think what has been also a real strong point is that he is very consistent, very rarely makes a mistake and that’s why I think he got to these numbers so quick. Yeah, it’s just very impressive.”

After breaking the record of Schumacher, Hamilton couldn’t hide his delight and marking his name in F1 history.

He said: “I could only ever have dreamed of being where I am today.

“I didn’t have a magic ball when I chose to come to this team and partner with these great people, but here I am.

“Everything we do together – we are all rowing in the same direction and that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.

“And my dad’s here and my step mum Linda, and Roscoe [Hamilton’s dog]. It is going to take some time for it to fully sink in.

“I was still pushing flat out as I came across the line. I can’t find the words at the moment.”

F1 returns this weekend with the San Marino Grand Prix as Hamilton closes in on his seventh world championship.

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NASCAR at Texas live updates, results, highlights from 2020 Cup Series playoff race

NASCAR’s Round of 8 race at Texas on Sunday has produced drama well before the firing of engines, hopefully foreshadowing a wild Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500.

Martin Truex Jr. was docked 20 points for failing a pre-race inspection and is now in serious trouble in his pursuit of a spot in the championship. There are only three positions remaining after Joey Logano’s win last weekend.

The main one-on-one battle to watch out for Sunday is between Brad Keselowski and Chase Elliott, who are separated by eight points on either side of the cut-off line.

Below are the Cup Series drivers still championship eligible, ranked by points:

Sporting News is tracking live updates and highlights from Sunday’s NASCAR race at Texas. Follow below for complete updates from the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500.

NASCAR at Texas live updates, highlights from 2020 playoff race

Live updates will begin at about 3:30 p.m. ET.

NASCAR race start time today

The Round of 8 NASCAR playoff race at Texas on Sunday should begin at about 3:30 p.m. ET.

The race is 334 laps spread over three stages and will become official after Lap 167. The distance of the race is 501 miles.

NASCAR at Texas starting lineup

Here is the complete starting lineup for Sunday’s NASCAR race at Texas:

(P) Playoff driver.

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Lewis Hamilton: Five of his greatest victories after breaking Michael Schumacher’s F1 wins record


Lewis Hamilton has beaten Michael Schumacher’s Formula One win record after claiming his 92nd career triumph in the Portuguese Grand Prix.

Much debate has surrounded the argument over who is the greatest F1 driver of all time, but Hamilton did his case no end of good on Sunday with a dominant victory at the Algarve International Circuit by more than 25 seconds over his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who sits 77 points adrift in the world championship battle.

The victory saw Hamilton eclipse Schumacher’s record tally of 91 Grand Prix wins, a record that has stood since the German retired for the first time in 2006, and puts him nearly 40 wins in front of third-placed man Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton first topped the podium in F1 in only his sixth F1 race back in 2007, a year before clinching his maiden world championship, and 92 races later he sits on the verge of securing a record-equalling seventh world title.

Here, we look back at five of the Hamilton’s finest victories.

Canadian Grand Prix – 10 June, 2007

Hamilton arrived in Montreal following five successive podiums, and after he beat team-mate Fernando Alonso to pole, the Briton controlled the race to win in just his sixth appearance. Hamilton displayed maturity way beyond his tender 22 years to manage a race disrupted by four safety car periods – one following Robert Kubica’s terrifying crash. 

“I was trying to control myself on the last lap,” a jubilant Hamilton explained afterwards as he became the first black driver to win a grand prix. “I just wanted to stop the car and jump out. I’ve been ready for this win for quite some time. It was just a matter of where and when.”

British Grand Prix – 6 July, 2008

In only his second season, Hamilton turned in a demonstration of skill and judgement in an outstanding display at Silverstone – arguably his greatest drive. In torrential rain, Hamilton flew past Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari and Red Bull’s Mark Webber before the first corner. He then eased his way past Heikki Kovalainen in the sister McLaren for the lead. 

From there, Hamilton never looked back. He was one of only four drivers not to spin, taking the chequered flag almost 70 seconds clear of second-placed Nick Heidfeld. He also lapped the entire field up to third. His title rival Felipe Massa spun five times. 

“It is by far my best victory,” said Hamilton. “The conditions were bad and as I was driving I thought, ‘If I win this, it will be the best race I’ve ever done’.”

Bahrain Grand Prix – 6 April, 2014

Now at Mercedes, Hamilton and team-mate Nico Rosberg delivered a race for the ages at the Sakhir Circuit. Hamilton beat pole-sitter Rosberg off the line – the German having been the quickest of the two drivers throughout the weekend. 

Rosberg tried everything to get round Hamilton but the British driver held firm to claim what was only his third victory for Mercedes – and one that fired him towards his second world championship.

German Grand Prix – 22 July, 2018

Hamilton started only 14th in Hockenheim following a mechanical failure in qualifying. But after scything his way back through the field, Hamilton then took advantage of a dramatic rain-hit conclusion which involved Sebastian Vettel crashing out from the lead. 

Hamilton revelled in the slippery conditions – driving three seconds faster than anyone else. Vettel’s crash saw the safety car deployed, moving Hamilton to the front of the pack to take the flag. 

Hamilton leapt from his Mercedes machinery and jumped into his sea of mechanics as he celebrated a win – described by his race engineer Pete Bonnington as a “miracle” – and one which laid the foundations for his fifth, and arguably most impressive, world championship.

Italian Grand Prix – 2 September, 2018

Six weeks later, Hamilton then went behind enemy lines to stun Ferrari at Monza. Ferrari had been quicker than Mercedes all weekend at the Temple of Speed and the fanatical tifosi expected to see Vettel convert a front-row lockout for the Italian team into a crushing win. 

Instead, they saw the German fall out of the reckoning following a clumsy opening-lap spin and Hamilton delivered a sensational performance which climaxed in him passing Raikkonen in the other Ferrari at 220mph with just eight laps left to secure the win. 

Hamilton, subjected to boos on the podium, said: “Given the sheer pressure that I am under, I definitely consider this win to be right up there.”

PA

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Lewis Hamilton breaks Michael Schumacher’s record for the most wins in F1 with Portuguese Grand Prix victory

Hamilton was an 11-year-old boy dominating Britain’s karting scene the last time a Formula One grand prix was staged in Portugal in 1996. Little did Hamilton know then, that 24 years later he would break F1’s all-time win record – a tally many thought would never be bettered following Schumacher’s 91st win at the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix.

For the opening six laps, Hamilton’s quest for history appeared in grave danger following a bizarre start to the 12th of 17 rounds under overcast and blustery Algarve skies.

After taking pole on Saturday, Hamilton retained the lead on the downhill gallop to the opening bend, but halfway round the first lap he had fallen to third, passed by Bottas and then McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, who started seventh.

A smattering of rain drops and cooler conditions meant Hamilton was off the mark in getting his medium-compound rubber up to speed, and team-mate Bottas, on the same rubber was also struggling.

Indeed, by the end of a frantic first lap – which also saw Verstappen collide with Racing Point’s Sergio Perez at the fourth corner – Sainz, starting on the speedier soft tyres, had taken the lead.

The briefest of showers soon abated and normal order started to resume, with Bottas retaking the lead on lap six and Hamilton moving past Sainz to take second on the ensuing lap.

At that stage, Bottas appeared in control, but it was not long before Hamilton’s brilliance came to the fore. On laps 17, 18 and 19, Hamilton set a hat-trick of fastest laps and Bottas’s two-second lead had evaporated. Then, on the run down to Turn 1 on lap 20, Hamilton cruised round the outside of Bottas to lead the grand prix.

Over the course of nine spellbinding laps, Hamilton opened up a seven-second lead over the Finn and with that, any chance Bottas had of stopping Hamilton from rewriting F1’s record books was over.

The Mercedes machine is in a class of one this year and with Hamilton at the wheel, he has no competition. The Englishman pulled in for his solitary change of tyres with 26 laps remaining before lapping the entire field up to Leclerc in fourth. It was a devastating display and one befitting of this great British talent.

Despite his accident with Verstappen on the first lap, Perez turned in a wonderful recovery drive. He finished seventh. AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly took fifth ahead of early leader Sainz.

Lance Stroll, who missed the last race with an illness which was later diagnosed as coronavirus, endured a miserable afternoon.

First, he was penalised five seconds for crashing into Lando Norris at the first corner – relegating the young Briton way down the order – before he was handed an additional five-second penalty for exceeding track limits. His Racing Point team later retired him from the race.

Portuguese Grand Prix results

1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1hr 29mins 56.828secs

2 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP 1:30:22.420

3 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 01:30:31.336

4 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 01:31:02.140

5 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Scuderia AlphaTauri at 1 lap

6 Carlos Sainz (Spa) McLaren at 1 lap

7 Sergio Perez (Mex) Racing Point at 1 lap

8 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Renault at 1 lap

9 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Renault at 1 lap

10 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari at 1 lap

11 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing at 1 lap

12 Alexander Albon (Tha) Red Bull at 1 lap

13 Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren at 1 lap

14 George Russell (Gbr) Williams at 1 lap

15 Antonio Giovinazzi (Ita) Alfa Romeo Racing at 1 lap

16 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 at 1 lap

17 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas F1 at 1 lap

18 Nicholas Latifi (Can) Williams at 2 laps

19 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Scuderia AlphaTauri at 2 laps

Not Classified:

Lance Stroll (Can) Racing Point at 51 laps completed

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Lewis Hamilton speaks out after breaking Michael Schumacher’s F1 record

Lewis Hamilton paid tribute to his Mercedes colleagues as he revelled in his record-breaking 92nd Grand Prix victory.

The 35-year-old won the Portuguese Grand Prix by a huge margin of over 25 seconds to surpass the 91 wins amassed by Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher.

Hamilton recovered from a poor start to bounce back from third place and overtake teammate Valterri Bottas in lap 20.

From there, the six-time world champion's surge to an eighth win of the season never looked in doubt.

Hamilton hailed the work of his team after what he described as a "tough" race in the Algarve.

He told Sky Sports : "I owe it all to these guys here and back at the factory for their tremendous work to continuously be innovating and pushing the barrier even higher every year, the target.

"It's just been such a privilege working with them and I'm so grateful for all the moments. The reliability has been absolutely incredible thanks to Mercedes and to Petronas and all our partners who are continuously.

"Again, no one's sitting back on the success, everyone's pushing, pushing and pushing and pushing. That's the most incredible thing to be surrounded by because it inspires you. That collaboration, there's nothing quite like it.

"Today was tough – it was all about temperatures today and that's something, with the set-up, I was able to preempt it."

Hamilton struggled in the damp conditions on the first lap but was confident he would be able to catch Bottas before long.

"They said it was going to rain straight after the race but we got some spitting just at the start," he said. "I had a good start but I went into turn seven, had a huge oversteer moment and I didn't know what was next.

"So, I really, really backed-off massively and arguably I should have defended from Valtteri, but I was like 'I'll come back later on'. And fortunately that's what I was able to do."

Hamilton reported suffering cramp in his leg over the team radio in the closing stages of the race and admitted he had to lift off the throttle at times to avoid injury.

"It's an incredibly physical sport but I had cramp in my right calf," Hamilton added. "So I was lifting quite often down the straight because it was about to pull.

"Pretty painful, but I had to somehow get through it because it is what it is – you can't lift the whole lap.

"I could only ever have dreamed of being where I am today. I didn't have a magic ball when I chose to come to this team and partner with these great people.

"But here I am and what I can tell you is that I'm trying to make the most of it every single day, everything that we do together.

"We've all grown in the same direction and that's really why you're seeing the success that we're having."

Hamilton embraced his father Anthony after getting out of his car and was overjoyed to have broken the record in front of his family.

The Brit said: "I've got my dad here which is amazing and my step-mum Linda is here, and [dog] Roscoe. So it's a very blessed day.

"It's going to take some time for it to fully sink in but I was still pushing flat out coming across the line, so I'm still very much in race mode mentally – I can't find the words at the moment."

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NASCAR lineup at Texas: Starting order, pole for Sunday’s race without qualifying

The starting lineup and pole for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway were not set by qualifying runs or by the random draws that were held earlier in the 2020 season as NASCAR moved to reduce time spent at the track because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, the starting grid for Sunday’s race at Texas, the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN), was the result of a formula that took into account finishing position from the previous race, team owner points standings and the fastest lap from the previous race. This was the eighth time a version of the formula was used to determine the starting lineup for a race without qualifying. 

The current formula was also used to determine pit stall selections, which means the pole sitter for Sunday’s race made the first pit stall selection.

Below is the starting lineup for Sunday’s NASCAR race at Texas and how it was set without qualifying.

Who won the pole for the NASCAR race at Texas?

Kevin Harvick will lead the field for the start of Sunday’s race at Texas. The driver of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 car leads the Cup Series points standings heading into the Round of 8 race and is coming off a second-place finish last weekend at Kansas. He is 41 points above the cut line for the Championship 4 race next month at Phoenix.

Next to him on the front row will be Joey Logano, who held off Harvick for the win at Kansas and gained an automatic berth into the Championship 4 race. The remaining playoff drivers will line up in this order: 3. Brad Keselowski (+8); 4. Chase Elliott (-8); 5. Alex Bowman (-27); 6. Martin Truex Jr. (-31); 7. Denny Hamlin (+20); 8. Kurt Busch (-73).

Below is the formula for how the Cup Series field was set at Texas:

NASCAR starting lineup at Texas

The starting lineup for Sunday’s race at Texas was determined by NASCAR’s new formula for setting lineups in races without qualifying. The same procedure will be used through the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

The formula produced this starting lineup for Sunday’s NASCAR race at Texas:

(P) Playoff driver.

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Portuguese Grand Prix live stream: How to watch F1 online and on TV today


Lewis Hamilton will attempt to break Michael Schumacher’s 14-year record at this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix as the Mercedes driver attempts to claim a 92nd career victory on unknown territory.

Formula One heads to the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao for the first time this weekend, with the second of four consecutive unfamiliar circuits seeing the Portuguese Grand Prix return to the calendar for the first time in 24 years.

Hamilton arrives in Portimao with a commanding 69-point lead in the drivers’ championship, and should he record another victory this weekend following his triumph last time out in the Eifel Grand Prix, not only will he break Schumacher’s record for the highest number of career victories, but he will edge closer towards a record-equalling seventh world title with a close-to-unassailable lead in the drivers’ championship.

The six-time champion leads Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, and with only six rounds remaining in the 2020 calendar – including this weekend’s Grand Prix – time is running out for the Finn to catch Hamilton and make a fight of it. However, the uncertainty posed by the first Grand Prix to be staged on the Algarve circuit could at least throw a spanner in the works, which could hand Bottas a way back into the title picture.

The track uncertainty is not the only thing for drivers to worry about though, with weather once again likely to interfere over the course of the weekend. Both Friday and Saturday should be significantly better – and warmer – than at the Nurburgring, but Sunday’s race could well be affected by rain if the forecast is anything to go by.

When is the Portuguese Grand Prix?

The Portuguese Grand Prix takes place on 23-25 October 2020.

What time does each session start?

FRIDAY

Free Practice 1: 11am – 12:30pm BST

Free Practice 2: 3pm – 4:30pm BST

SATURDAY

Free Practice 3: 11am – 12pm BST

Qualifying: 2pm – 3pm BST

SUNDAY

Race: 1:10pm – 3:10pm GMT

TV schedule

FRIDAY

Free Practice 1: 10:30am – 12:45pm BST (Sky Sports F1 + Sky Sports Main Event)

Free Practice 2: 2:45pm – 4:45pm BST (Sky Sports F1)

SATURDAY

Free Practice 3: 10:45am – 12:10pm BST (Sky Sports F1)

Qualifying: 1pm – 3:35pm BST (Sky Sports F1)

SUNDAY

Race: 11:30am – 4pm GMT (Sky Sports F1)

Race highlights: 5:30pm – 6:30pm GMT (Sky One), 6:30pm – 9pm (Channel 4)

If you’re not a Sky customer you can grab a NOWTV Day Pass here to watch without a subscription.

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Aussie F3 champion Oscar Piastri to follow in Ricciardo’s footsteps with F1 test in Bahrain

2020 Formula 3 champion Oscar Piastri is set for his first drive in an F1 car on October 30 in Bahrain as he pushes for a 2022 berth in F1.

The 19-year-old Melburnian joined the Renault Sport Academy in January 2020 and took out the F3 championship with a seventh place finish in the final event of the season for the class.

Watch the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship™ on KAYO. Every practice, qualifying session and race LIVE. New to Kayo? Get your free trial now & start streaming instantly >

In his first season with Prema Racing, Piastri claimed two race wins and six podiums as he took out championship and put his name up in lights.

And Renault have high hopes for the Aussie with the Academy director Mia Sharizman laying out a two year plan for the Aussie to reach Formula One.

“For Oscar, in this case, what we expect for him is not just a taste of (Formula 1). It is a reward, firstly, for winning the (F3) title but giving him a first day is already a plan for us for the next two years with the ultimate aim of driving in Formula 1 with us as a race driver,” Sharizman said. “So, this is just the first day of many for him.

“Oscar will be experiencing his first time in a Formula 1 car as a reward for winning the FIA Formula 3 title plus it is part of his continued progression in the Academy.

“The plan for the testing days often varies depending on experience, so Oscar’s day will be about getting him up to speed and familiar with the car.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to show the progression and level of achievement of the drivers in the Academy.”

Oscar Piastri after winning in Barcelona.Source:Getty Images

Piastri will drive on the second day of testing and will get behind the wheel of Renault’s R. S. 18 car and appears to be heading in the same direction as Ricciardo.

Piastri will be one of three drivers to get behind the wheel alongside fellow academy drivers Christian Lundgaard and Guanyu Zhou.

Ricciardo, who currently drives for Renault in F1 before a move to McLaren for 2021, first tested in an F1 car in 2009 before debuting in 2011.

Piastri will move up to the F2 championship in 2021, and although he hasn’t confirmed which team he will drive for, he is expected to continue with Prema, with 2020 driver Mick Schumacher and Robert Shwartzman expected to get F1 drives next season.

Piastri said he would cherish his first taste of Formula One.

“Obviously, it will be my first test in a Formula 1 car, so it will definitely be a moment to cherish and remember for a very long time.

“It’s not every day that you get the opportunity to drive an F1 car, so I am very grateful to the team for the opportunity. There will be lots to learn on the day, such as getting used to the power, downforce and braking of the car and it will all be a challenge, but I love tackling new ones.

“I drove the Bahrain circuit earlier this year when we did the FIA Formula 3 pre-season test, but I’ve obviously never lapped the circuit in an F1 car, so I can’t wait to get out on track.”

And Piastri has a good person in his corner with Ricciardo a fan of the youngster.

“I only met Oscar in the off-season. We were both at Enstone together, so I got to meet him. As a person he seems like a good kid, head screwed on, pretty low maintenance. I’d say pretty chilled,” Ricciardo said of Piastri.

“It’s cool to see some Aussies back in there. There was a chunk in F3 this year, I think four of them. So awesome that one could win.

“I know Mark [Webber] has been looking after him a little bit, and I’m sure giving him some guidance. So you can see it’s paid off. So I’m very happy for Oscar.”

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Lewis Hamilton praise for Max Verstappen amid Red Bull F1 gains

Lewis Hamilton believes his battles with Max Verstappen will only intensify over the next 12 months with F1’s champion expecting Mercedes and Red Bull to remain as close as recent races.

Although Hamilton and Mercedes are fast closing on yet another world championship double, the pace gap has closed between F1’s top two teams at recent events with Red Bull improving the handling and performance of their RB16 car.

  • F1 ready to ride the rollercoaster: The Portimao need-to-know
  • When to watch the Portuguese GP on Sky F1 this weekend
  • The Formula 1 Gossip Column

Verstappen finished second to Hamilton at the last race in Germany, the Dutchman’s sixth top-two result in the last nine events.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after winning at the Eifel GP, Hamilton said of his Red Bull rival: “He’s such a great talent, he’s so fast and consistent.

“So it’s not easy to beat this young up-and-coming champ.”

Hamilton is expecting the two-team fight to continue over the season’s final six races and then into next season, when cost-saving rule changes mean teams can only make limited changes to their 2020 cars.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff confirmed the world champions had already shifted focus to 2021 “a long time ago”, contributing to the recent annual trend of late-year Red Bull gains.

“You saw they had the fastest lap at the end [at the Nurburgring], and I pushed as hard as I could to get the fastest lap. So they’ve got a great car and I think they are continuously improving,” said Hamilton of Red Bull.

“So I think it’s going to be this close between us, particularly for the rest of the season.

“There’s going to be tracks that might favour them, maybe, and then going into next year it is a similar car to what we have so I think you’re going to see the closest racing probably between us two and our team in the next 12 months.”

The scene of a record-setting debut for Portimao?

As part of a run of four races not on the original calendar for this year, F1 returns to Portugal for the first time in 24 years this weekend – and races at the Portimao circuit in the Algarve for the very first time.

The Grand Prix debut for the undulating track, where Hamilton tested for McLaren in 2009, could be the scene for the six-time champion claiming a record-breaking 92nd F1 victory, after he equalled Michael Schumacher’s benchmark of 91 last time out.

Not that Hamilton says that winning gets any more straightforward the longer his F1 career goes.

“What’s crazy is that every weekend, 91 wins, it never gets any easier. I can tell you that,” said the Mercedes driver.

“If anything, it’s almost like it’s getting harder. I remember my first one in Montreal [in 2007], so young and just didn’t have all the knowledge that I have now. But now it’s physically demanding in a different way and mentally demanding in a different way. Just as hard, if not harder.”

Hamilton leads Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who retired from the last race, by 69 points in the Drivers’ Championship, while Verstappen is a further 14 points adrift.

There are 156 points left to play for across the season’s concluding six events.

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Radio failure forces Chase Elliott to get creative, prompts complaints of NASCAR favoritism

Chase Elliott and his Hendrick Motorsports team were forced to go old school Sunday in the Hollywood Casino 400 playoff race amid severe radio communication problems.

Elliott couldn’t hear his spotter for most of the first and second stages but still won Stage 1 and finished the race in sixth place. He resorted to using hand signals to indicate when his car was feeling loose or tight, and his crew set up a makeshift sign on pit road indicating how many tires it would change during stops.

Knowing when to pit proved the biggest challenge for Elliott. In Stage 2, he went in for fresh tires not hearing his team frantically yelling to stay out on the track.

“Someone stand somewhere to let me know when to pit,” Elliott said at one point.

NASCAR did not step in and black flag Elliott, deeming the issue not serious enough to rise to a legitimate safety concern. That caused a bit of a stir and led to murmors NASCAR was favoring Elliott, one of the more popular drivers in the sport. There was no indication preferential treatment actually played a role in the decision.

NASCAR officials indicated they were in touch with the No. 9 team and used those interactions as the basis for letting Elliott continue. Elliott said the communication setback didn’t affect him as much as it might have seemed.

“I didn’t think it was unsafe,” Elliott told reporters after the race. “Honestly I never even thought about that. I mean, short-track dirt racers around the country race with no spotters every weekend.”

Elliott will need to claw back into the top four over the next two races to advance to the championship at Phoenix. Joey Logano’s advancement-clinching win on Sunday made the task more difficult.

Elliott is eight points behind Brad Keselowski for fourth place.

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