Wednesday, November 26, 2014

2014 Formula 1 Conclusion!

The fat lady sang, it AND the shouting is all over,  so apparently we came to the fork in the road and took it.  The F1 season finished up in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, and Lewis Hamilton is now a two-time world driver champion, so congrats to Lewis and his Mercedes-Petronas team for casting an evil spell against Lord Valdemort, and....I mean, congrats to the Mercedes team for winning the constructors title too!

Over on our 2014 Standings page you can find all the individual driver and constructor's team points standings, and what our predictions were before the season started. Back in March we knew that the Mercedes team had been much faster during the pre-season testing, so we both were correct in putting Hamilton and Rosberg in our top three. I have to humbly point out that my picks were EXACTLY right for 1st and 2nd on drivers while Brian had them 2nd and 3rd with his belief that Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso would somehow win the title. Maybe my picks were just a bit better for drivers, here's how it went:

     2014 DriversPredictions:

          Brian's Pre-Season Picks:   1. Alonso      2. Hamilton   3. Rosberg
          Robert's Picks:                   1. Hamilton   2. Rosberg    3. Massa

...and how they finished:

1.  Lewis Hamilton

2.  Nico Rosberg

3.  Daniel Ricciardo

4.  Valtteri Bottas

5.  Sebastian Vettel

6.  Fernando Alonso

7.  Felipe Massa

---Team wise, here's what we predicted:

     2014 Constructors Predictions:
          Brian's Picks:   1. Mercedes 2. Ferrari    3. McLaren
          Robert's Picks: 1. Ferrari     2. Williams 3. Mercedes

 ...and here's how they finished:

     2014 Constructors Final Standings:

     1.  Mercedes
     2. Red Bull Racing
     3. Williams
     4. Ferrari
     5. McLaren

So team wise, Brian's top 3 finished 1st, 4th, 5th, while my top 3 were 4th, 3rd, and 1st.
I'm not sure how they would score that in the Olympics, but I think Brian wins for correctly choosing the winning team of Mercedes.  

In summary, 2014 was a new and exciting year with the introduction of smaller power units, turbo power, a change to the energy regeneration system, double points in the last race, new tracks in Russia and Austria, several rookie drivers, the first points ever for Marussia, the first team title for Mercedes, and a close driver's battle that wasn't decided until the final race. 

On the negative side, we have to mention that Marussia driver Jules Bianchi remains hospitalized for a terrible crash in Japan back in October, and we hope that he recovers as much as possible.  Racing wise, nothing is more important than that, so I'll just mention that Formula 1 takes a good look at all their safety procedures, and can at least prevent similar accidents from happening again. 

Yesterday and today the F1 teams were busy doing more on track testing in Abu Dhabi in advance of the 2015 season, so we'll be keeping an eye on what's going on there, and get ready for another exciting season in 2015. Maybe we can get a little better in our predictions next time, so for now that's about the finale of 2014!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

One Good Reason to Test Drive a Mazda!

We're big fans of driving automobiles safely every day, and of course it's even more fun to drive quickly on a track or an autocross course too. Test driving cars is another fun activity, and we've been able to participate in some big events like the Jaguar Drive Alive and the Ford Ecoboost Challenge where manufacturers roll into town and bring their latest cars for the general public to drive and experience. At tracks like Darlington, Charlotte, and Martinsville we've even gotten to drive where the NASCAR drivers compete for contributing to various charities.

Well, today I just want to say thanks to Mazda for giving EVERYONE a chance to contribute to a worthy charity, and you can make YOUR donation just by test driving a Mazda car at your local Mazda dealer. Of course NMS suggests that you might want to hop into a Mazda Miata for this event, but any Mazda will do. We've also driven the Mazda 6 on a few hundred miles of vacation-rental car driving, and enjoyed the ride!

Check out this link, visit your Mazda dealer, and in exchange just for test driving the Mazda folks will be donating their time for a charity, so everyone wins!

Mazda Drive For Good Link

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Brief Interruption

I'll briefly interrupt everyone's celebration or lament of Lewis Hamilton's 2014 F1 championship win with a quick work on the site update.

You may have noticed the new header, which is part of the site redesign for 2015 along with the above revised logo and other graphics in progress.  Check back over the next month for more!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

2014 Formula 1 SHOWDOWN!

24 hours from now we will know who has won the driver's championship for this year in Formula 1, but for now it's all up for grabs between the last two men standing. Let's see if we can accurately predict how things will play out in the DUEL IN THE DESERT tomorrow!

Atop the points standings right now is Lewis Hamilton, driving for the dominant team this year, Mercedes.  He's won more races than anyone so far, and has more F1 wins than any other British driver ever. As a former world champion in 2008 with McLaren, Hamilton should know how to deal with top level competition such as he will face tomorrow in the final race. On the negative side, he's also had some bad luck this year with a couple of mechanical retirements, an engine fire during qualifying, and having to start from the back of the grid. Add that all up, and with his points lead right now, he can lock up the championship by finishing first or second tomorrow. If he's third or lower, then his team mate could take the championship if he places high enough.

Second in the points standings, and the only other driver with a shot at taking the crown is Nico Rosberg, also driving for Mercedes. While Hamilton has more wins this season, Rosberg has taken more pole positions, including the pole for tomorrows finale in Abu Dhabi. This gives Rosberg the advantage before the race starts, but as we've seen this year, these two guys are not afraid to mix it up on the opening laps, like in Belgium this year when Nico hit Lewis and caused damage to both cars. Rosberg can't afford any contact in this race because he MUST finish higher than Hamilton. By starting ahead of Hamilton, at least going into the first few corners Rosberg shouldn't have to worry about any collisions.

Strategy wise, here's a few likely scenarios on what we'll see tomorrow.

Hamilton as the points leader might just be very very happy to stay in 2nd place from the grid all the way to the end. Barring any mechanical problems, collisions, or terrible pit stops, given the pace of the Mercedes car this year I think this is what we will see. The only danger here, and it's not a huge danger, is that someone else will pass Hamilton for 2nd place in the race. If this happens, and Rosberg is cruising ahead up in first place, then Hamilton will have to fight back with everything he's got. The math works out that if Hamilton finished 3rd or lower, while Rosberg wins, then Rosberg becomes world champion.  The more complicated part is if Hamilton is 3rd or lower and Rosberg is 2nd or lower. In that case, there are a lot of points to be added up and figured to see who is champion.

Rosberg trails in the points, so first off he MUST finish ahead of Hamilton. Since he's on the pole, maybe he can just stay ahead and that will be all he can do. If so, he'll be hoping that someone from farther back can pass Hamilton to hand the championship to Rosberg. Most likely to do that would be the two Williams drivers, Valtteri Bottas from Finland and Brazil's Felipe Massa. The Williams cars are now qualified in 3rd and 4th, right behind the Mercedes drivers, and their qualifying laps were close to the Mercedes guys.

Beyond the Mercedes and Williams teams, both Red Bull and McLaren have had some good laps so far this week, but it seems a bit far fetched to think that they will suddenly be a second a lap faster and be able to run with the Mercedes guys. They've both managed to at least get on the podium this season, so I think we'll only see them factor in the standings if Hamilton has a problem in the race that allows Ricciardo or Vettel from Red Bull, or Button or Magnussen from McLaren to sneak ahead.

Bottom line on the last race of the season, it's been a Mercedes year all the way, and tomorrow could be a legendary battle between two team mates taking the championship down to the last lap in dramatic fashion..  If I had to bet, I'd put my money on Rosberg and Hamilton cruising to another 1-2 that gives Lewis Hamilton his 2nd world championship. Easy to say today, but tomorrow at 7am on NBC Sports Network I'll be tuning in to see how it goes. NBCSN listings

To borrow a phrase from baseball's Yogi Berra, "It ain't over til it's over".

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lap Your Car At Martinsville Dec 1-12

On Mondays thru Fridays December 1-12, you can visit Martinsville Speedway (oddly enough located in Martinsville VA), and for a small monetary donation (oddly enough using money) to their charity that buys toys for needy kids... DRIVE YOUR CAR ON THE TRACK!

(yes, that will oddly enough be ON THE TRACK!)

The track at Martinsville is only a half mile, so for a little perspective, just picture driving your car around an oval that is only twice as big as your high school's quarter mile track.

(If you attended school in Canada or Europe and had a 400 "meter" track, well, uh, then just please  use your imagination and convert miles to kilometers, and speak English with an accent of some sort)

Now in the name of safety the kind folks at Martinsville aren't crazy enough to cut you loose and let you go as fast as possible and hurt your self (or hurt their track!), so they apply enough common sense to keep this event safe, have you follow a pace vehicle, and ensure everyone has a good time.

(Again, for Canadians and Europeans that may not be aware, these Martinsville Hot Dogs are great, although oddly enough they are NOT made out of dogs!)

If you even THINK it sounds like fun, we can confirm that IT IS FUN!

Come on now, be honest, when you load all the kids and the dog in your 1966 wood grained   Buick Roadmaster station wagon, you just aren't going to wheel around this track as fast as Richard Petty, but I bet you'll have just as much fun as he did, since you're doing it for a good cause. Dust off your camera, and make plans now to DO THIS!

This photo is from a few years ago, so don't go by the dates you see, check out the official link, and head for Martinsville December 1-12 in 2014!

Martinsville Toy Drive Link

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I just read some great news on the official Formula 1 website F1 LINK so am happy to share  that driver Jules Bianchi is now in a hospital back home in Nice France. The reason that's good news is that since the F1 race in Japan in October earlier this year, Jules had been unconscious in a hospital in Japan caused by a big crash during the race there.

While his condition is still critical, at least he is breathing on his own and is closer to home. I don't think there is any definitive prognosis on the final outcome and how long it will take, so I'll just ask that you keep him in your thoughts and prayers as a young F1 driver that was in a terrible accident.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Final Run in 2014

This past Saturday was the final SCR-SCCA points event of 2014.  The #86 Miata was the lone entry for NMS and although the official results aren't posted, it looks like a 2nd place finish in ES.

The day started off pretty chilly, in the 40s and seemed to warm up quite nicely by the afternoon.  I again struggled with consistency and failed to avoid cones on my quickest runs.  The 99 still is running strong though the 16 year old shocks were really showing their age when caught by the event photographer around a lower speed slalom (below).  The front right wheel is about an inch or so off the ground.

Hopefully by March I can replace the worn out shocks and add a stiffer anti-sway bar up front to help keep that under control.  In the big picture though, the car is just fine and the nut behind the wheel just needs a little adjustment to keep off the cones next season and make those good times I've been finding really count in the points.

Extra thanks again to everyone outside of the NMS team who has helped out all season with everything from driving pointers to selling, buying and fixing cars.  You guys really taught me a lot this season.  Can't wait for 2015.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Last Race of the Year!

Today was the NASCAR finale, and next Sunday will be the Formula 1 final race of the year too. Yesterday Brian drove at the last scheduled autocross for the South Carolina region, so he'll have something to say about that I'm sure.

Since I moved to Virginia, that has ended my season in South Carolina, so for the year I ended in 3rd place in the G Street class, well behind a couple of Ford Focus STs. The rules say that you have to finish a certain number of events to compete in the season long points competition, so while I could point out that one of the guys ahead of me didn't enter enough events, I have to be honest and let you know that even in fewer events he scored more points than I did!

Over in the E Street class, Brian also took third for the year, which also involved his recent change in Miatas with lots of work on the new-used car, and certainly he was much more competitive in his class than I was in mine. We hope to drive at some more of the same events next year, possibly in South Carolina or up here in Virginia, or just maybe at one of the regions in between us. That was one highlight this year, driving up to do some events in North Carolina with some different SCCA regions.

The Sports Car Club of America has regions all over the US, so why not find out YOUR region now, and plan on trying an auto cross event in 2015?  Here is the link to their page where you can Find Your Region. SCCA

Is Your Car Ready For Winter?

NMS would like to offer this advice for making sure your car is ready for winter. We take safety very seriously, so would like to suggest three easy steps to keep you driving safely during the winter:

1: Look at your calendar and see if it's winter. Your mileage may vary depending on which side of the equator you call home. If it's not winter, ignore steps 2 and 3.

2: If it IS winter, then again consult your map and see if you live where it is likely to be below freezing on a regular basis. HINT: If you live on Mars, it is below freezing all the time. I mean it's C.O.L.D. there ALL THE TIME!!!   If you usually don't get snow during the winter, ignore step 3.

3: By now you have established that it IS winter, you DO live where it gets cold, so this will the most important step. MOVE TO WHERE YOU DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT WINTER! Holy smokes, I mean, just pack up and go live where you can drive safely, play golf, and go outside in shorts and sandals all year!

Seriously, cold weather brings about some driving hazards that are easy to prepare for, so take the time to make your car is ready for the cold.  Check out this checklist from our good friends at USAA:  USAA Winter Auto-guide

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

2015 Drivers and Engine Suppliers Confirmed

Nixon Motor Sports this week announced that Robert Nixon and Brian Nixon have both signed a new one year contract extension to carry the team forward through 2015.  With the expansion to Virginia Beach the team is looking to retain the experience and stability of the current driver lineup to build on 2014's success while simultaneously dividing the bases of operations.

In addition to driving duties, Robert will take on the role of NMS Northern Regional Director of Directing Operational Driving Duties and Operations and Planning.  


Brian is also stepping into additional duties as he takes on the assignment of NMS Southern Regional Manager of Motorsports Driver Management and Development Supervision Lead.

Unfortunately the team has not received confirmation of any technical partnerships or deals with engine suppliers Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault, Honda, or even Cosworth.  At this time the 2015 chassis development will continue with the previously supplied Fiat and Mazda systems.  As first act as NMS Southern Regional Manager of Motorsports Driver Management and Development Supervision Lead, Brian released the following statement,

"We're winding down the 2014 season and as advantageous as it would be to switch to a more robust power unit from other suppliers, it is simply cost-prohibitive at this juncture to delay any further development using our experience on the current systems and we must move forward with an evolution of this year's cars."

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Top Swap

This weekend the 99 Miata finally got a very much needed vinyl top replacement. The tan top that came with the car looked to be original (and with the car manufacturing date in early 1998, that means it was way past its prime). The glass window was falling out after the previous owner's shoddy glue job started to wear out. The plastic gutter at the base of the top was cracked and leaked water into the car causing several rust spots we had to address.
Above you can see my duct tape job that finally failed to hold it together while below we pull the rain rail out and separate the top from the car.

First we took the old top off the car. Next we removed several interior trim panels and carpet to finish sanding off the rust and covering it with a rust-preventing primer and a top coat of red (the fastest color).  While we were at it, we covered and cleaned up the trunk. Below is the trunk before...
And then after masking off the trunk and painting...

Interior panels painted as well...
Several rivets had to be drilled out and the old vinyl comes off the metal frame. We then riveted the new black vinyl top onto the frame.  Below is the mostly bare frame.
Here's the new top all laid out and getting stretched on.

We took a quick break to remove some chewed up insulation hiding back by the fuel tank and vacuum out the small pile of old mouse turds. Luckily we found no live or dead mice still in the car. It was a great chance to really clean out the hard to reach spots and patch the rust damage.

From there we re-bolt the frame to the car.  There's a lot more complexity to the process. I mean a LOT more complexity, but overall it was fairly straight forward.

The new top is still a little slow to stretch far enough to latch closed so for now I'll keep sand bags on it to help the process.

Luckily friends Kyle, Harlan, and Philip pitched in and fellow SCR SCCA club member, Chuck let us borrow his awesome garage space and tools so we didn't have 3 people crammed into the NMS garage for this big project. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Have Engine Oil Changed Part 2

 Just for fun, here is a look under the Abarth. The cover you see here has to be removed to get to the oil pan, so that's all there is to see here. Odds are the lawn mower back there won't be able to get me while I'm under 2400 pounds of FIAT. A 10mm socket takes care of this little bit of work. Of course if I had one of those cool oil suction things I could do oil changes without crawling under here and having to remove this cover, so we'll see about getting a little more high tech.

One thing that makes the Abarth so cool sounding for a little 4 cylinder turbo car is that it doesn't have a muffler. Here's the view from up under the engine looking back towards the dual exhausts at the rear, and you can plainly see no muffler anywhere in sight.  Well, unless you have Superman vision and can see the muffler on the Camry out there in the driveway at least

After changing back to the stock wheels shown above, it's time to check the tire pressure. The manual states 38psi in front and 32psi in the rear, so as you can imagine, rotating tires might give you the wrong pressures all over the place. This is just a cheap little air pump that runs off the auxiliary power port in the car. You can find these little bad boys at any auto parts store. This particular one also has a can of Fix-A-Flat, and I'm happy to say that so far I haven't accidentally hit the wrong button and filled a perfectly good tire with Fix-A-Flat goop! 

Maybe the photo doesn't show it very well, but trust me, these wheels are filthy with brake dust from the 16 or so autocross runs in October.  The other day I just put them in the yard, and cleaned them with some spray on cleaner, scrubbed with a sponge, and hosed it off.  Try clicking on the photo to see it better.

On the left you can see the inside of one wheel that has been cleaned, at least enough to take off the first coat of gunk. After they dry I'll wrap them back up and store flat in the garage until they are needed again. Since it was getting dark out I just left them in the garage like this overnight to dry. Luckily the broom threw itself in front of the wheels so they wouldn't try to run away from home.

And here you can see the front of one of the wheels, and the custom Abarth bucket that Brian made for me.  I know that it is easier and more convenient to have someone else change your oil and change tires, but doing it yourself is a great way to make sure it's done right!  At least once I had a bad experience with a large auto shop over-tightening an oil pan drain plug, and I can state that I haven't make that mistake myself yet!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Have Engine Oil Changed Day Part 1

Brian has been filling up the blog with some awesome posts about his new/used Miata and tons of cool stuff he's been working on, so to go back to car maintenance 101, the best I can show you right now is a basic wheel rotation and oil change from yesterday. As Monty Python once said, "And after that, we'll build a nuclear bomb, and learn to play the flute"! 

My Italian car (that was built in Mexico) sent me this message in English the other day: "Have Engine Oil Changed". My first thought was that it sounded like a command to take my car somewhere and pay someone else to change the oil. Why didn't it instruct "HEY YOU, GO CHANGE YOUR OIL SO THE ENGINE DOESN'T EXPLODE"? Enough deep thinking about communication between machine and driver, let's get to work!

After getting some oil filters and more oil from Amazon, a quick visit to the local AutoZone for some gloves and a new oil catching thing I was ready to operate. I'm not a big baby, so let's just say the rubber gloves are handy for keeping oil off your hands.

Here is our patient ready for the operation! According to the FIAT manual, at oil changing time you should also rotate the tires. For me that translates to taking off the 17 inch wheels (Dunlop tires) pictured here that I use for autocross and put the stock 16 inch wheels (Pirelli tires) back on. So far I'm at 35,000 total miles on the vehicle, and with changing wheels on and off I figure it's a great work-out for the entire body too!

On the left, we're looking from behind the left rear wheel towards the front, with both left side wheels up in the air it's time to take these off. One bonus for having a small car like a FIAT or a Miata is that you can jack it up in one spot and get two wheels off the ground, so that just speeds up the process compared to having to jack up each wheel individually. Of course a nice $2,000 four post lift could get all wheels off the ground at once, so keep that in mind at Christmas time when you are looking for that ideal gift!

Since it's election week, I wanted to give equal time to both the left and the right, so here's the right side with the rear wheel removed.  There is probably some legal reason to say right about now "DO NOT DRIVE VEHICLE IN THIS CONDITION!"

Time to move on to oil changing, Both sides are jacked up in the front and on jack stands. Feel free to Photo Shop out the stands and tell people I do wheelies in my garage!

After draining the oil from underneath, it's time to take out the old oil filter. On the Abarth, it's only reachable from the engine bay above, and is going to require removing just a few things in our way. First up, we're going to loosen a few clips and hose clamps to remove this part of the air flow (number 1 in the photo). This part is easy, and just means pulling out a screwdriver and maybe some pliers to loosen the hose clips. 

Here you can see that part #1 is gone, and now we need to remove a smaller section of hose, the little curved elbow marked #2 in this photo. 


With #2 out of the way (no comments on that statement if you please), we can finally see the oil filter cartridge. We're pretty much looking straight down, and you can see the filter cover/cartridge thing with the hexagon shaped bit on top inside the handy white circle I drew on it for you. For the Abarth, I have to put together a couple of socket extensions and a swivel to get my wrench way down there. Oh, and a huge 27mm (or so) sized socket to wrench this thing loose.  Once this thing is loose, you just need a 7 foot dude or a  gorilla with equivalent arm length to reach in there and pull it out, hopefully without spilling any oil.

Of course as a semi-professional jack-of-no-trades, it's pretty easy to work the wrench with all those extensions with one hand and then shoot high quality photographs like this with the other. Imagine what you could do with a third hand! Looking straight down on this angle. Isn't it fun working in small engine bays?

 And Voila! Here is the oil cartridge with a squeaky clean new Mopar oil filter inserted, ready to put this thing back into the engine way down inside there. There is still something funny to me about putting a Mopar branded part in my Italian/Mexican/US car, but that's the way we roll in the 21st Century!

For extra credit fun, remember to add your oil from bottles shaped like this as shown on the right. Someone told me that this prevents the glug-glug-glug of having air bubbles in your bottle. I guess that is a good point about the physics of liquid flowing, but I also must point out that judging by the shape of their containers, the Budweiser folks and the milk carton people don't seem to have this issue. (please notice the Ferrari logo on the Pennzoil bottle and give the folks in Italy a good word for Nixon Motor Sports!)

Thanks for reading part one, next time I'll share some exciting wheel changing and wheel cleaning photos!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Season 5

Jerry Seinfeld is back with another season of his Internet show "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee". This first episode features Kevin Hart, and some awesome footage of Jerry and Kevin riding in LA in a 1950s Porsche Spyder.  We highly recommend watching this one!

Here's the link:  CCC

Jerry also appeared on the NBC nightly news last night, so you might want to check out their short feature with Jerry at this link:   NBC News

Sunday, November 2, 2014


10.  Who will win the F1 race in Texas today? 
My pick of Nico Rosberg came in 2nd, so I missed this one!

9.  Will you be watching NFL football, NASCAR from Texas, or F1 from Texas? 
I enjoyed watching the race, there was some great dueling along the way!

8.  Will Adrian Sutil finish the first lap? 
Believe it or not, for the third year in a row he did NOT finish the first lap! Sergio Perez went too fast into a corner on the first lap, bumped into Kimi's Ferrari, and then bumped into Sutil knocking them both out of the race! Totally bad luck for Sutil this time. There's always next year. 

7.  Can the Sauber team score any points? 
Today and every other race so far this year, the answer is still "no".  Two races to go, and they would love to score some points so that they don't finish last in the constructors title.

6.  Can Lewis Hamilton win his 5th race in a row? 
YES, he sure did!  A good race from Hamilton with no mistakes. He trailed Rosberg for the first lap until the safety car came out, so that probably really didn't have an impact. 

5.  Will my favorite team Ferrari accomplish anything today? By anything, I mean a top three finish on the podium for either driver, Fernando Alonso or Kimi Raikkonen
Nothing great today, Alonso finished in 6th like he started. Kimi had bad luck and was struck by the Force India car of Sergio Perez on the first lap, and pretty much dropped back through the field and ended about 13th, out of the points. I haven't heard officially, but my guess is that his Ferrari was damaged and he just couldn't stay in the top ten and score any points today. 

4.  Can Williams driver Valterri Bottas finish higher than his qualifying 3rd place? 
Not today, as the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo managed to pass both Williams drivers and take 3rd behind the two Mercedes drivers. Valterri is still in good shape for the drivers points overall, so he's having a good year. 

3.  Could Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull pull off a surprise win today? 
Not a surprise win, but an excellent move up to take 3rd and stand on the podium at the end. 

2.  What's up with 4 time champ Sebastian Vettel starting from the pit lane? 
Vettel had a better day than I had predicted, and got into the top ten and then a few more places to still score some good points. He'll be leaving Red Bull at the end of the year, so we're waiting for the end of the season to find out if he will drive for a team that sounds like Ferrari or not!

1.  What channel is this on?  
I enjoyed the HD broadcast on NBC, so stay tuned for next week's race live from Brazil!  You can always find out what motor racing events are on TV by going to TV RACER.COM


10.  Who will win the F1 race in Texas today? I'll predict pole sitter Nico Rosberg will lead from start to finish.
9.  Will you be watching NFL football, NASCAR from Texas, or F1 from Texas? At my house the answer will be F1, and according to what I've read, about 500,000 more folks in the US will watch also. Not as big as NASCAR and the NFL, but if we all liked the same things, well, then I guess we'd only need one channel on TV.
8.  Will Adrian Sutil finish the first lap?  He has started the last two (and only) races at Austin, but due to bad luck and incidents with other cars, has not managed to finish one lap yet!  I think he'll manage to finish the race this time!
7.  Can the Sauber team score any points? In an F1 race, the top ten finishers score points, and so far this year the Sauber team hasn't scored any at all! Due to financial problems, two other teams (Marussia and Caterham) aren't even racing today, so while there may be no connection to how Sauber performs, they have managed to qualify one of the cars in 10th place, so they are in a points position at the start!
6.  Can Lewis Hamilton win his 5th race in a row? He is starting 2nd on the grid, but unfortunately the one car ahead of him is his Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg, so the two cars should be about equal on performance. This has been the most interesting battle of the season, as these two drivers from the same team duke it out for the world driver's championship. Their Mercedes team has already clinched the constructors title, so the main interest will be the drivers points.
5.  Will my favorite team Ferrari accomplish anything today? By anything, I mean a top three finish on the podium for either driver, Fernando Alonso or Kimi Raikkonen. Alonso has again qualified in a better slot than Kimi, but I think the red Ferrari cars just don't have the pace to get up to the top three.
4.  Can Williams driver Valterri Bottas finish higher than his qualifying 3rd place? I sure hope so, he's having a great run this year in only his second season.  Last year his best placing was here in Austin, so I'm looking for his #77 car to finish in the top three for sure!
3.  Could Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull pull off a surprise win today? He's the only driver not named Rosberg or Hamilton to win this entire year so far, so maybe he'll be there at the finish again to take the checkered flag.
2.  What's up with 4 time champ Sebastian Vettel starting from the pit lane? Well, in all the technological changes to the rules this year, there is a limit of only so many engines and other components you can use in the season. Vettel has had to use one more engine than allowed, so the penalty is that no matter what you did in qualifying, you basically start last in the pit lane. His Red Bull still has the speed to be competitive, but coming from last I think around 10th place is the best he can do today.
1.  What channel is this on?  A good question, because most of the races have been on NBC Sports Channel, but being here in the good old USA today, the race gets better publicity on the regular network NBC.  See you there at 3PM Eastern, and I hope you changed your clocks!

For all things F1, check out the official website: