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F1's success in the U.S. could mean more competition for NASCAR

The U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas was "proof that Formula One has finally arrived in America," and it "could be here to stay for a long time," according to Nate Saunders of ESPN.com. There was a record crowd and "carnival-like atmosphere" during Sunday's race. Boosted by one of the sport's all-time great championship battles between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton and "riding the wave of popularity created by three seasons of Netflix's wildly successful 'Drive to Survive,'" the steps F1 has made since the last U.S. Grand Prix in '19 "were clear to see." These are "uncharted waters" for F1 after "having spent decades trying and failing to crack the American market." This U.S. Grand Prix "felt different from any that has come before, in Texas or at any other venue." Saunders: "It felt as much like an Indy 500 as it did a Formula One race." Red Bull F1 Team Principal Christian Horner said, "Formula One's made a big statement this weekend." The Miami Grand Prix "will make its debut in May 2022." COTA's slot on the '22 schedule "has an asterisk alongside it as the circuit has yet to secure a new deal beyond Sunday's race." F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali "would be foolish not to want to keep the Austin venue on the schedule long into the future." Meanwhile, F1 "might not stop at two races in America: rumours of a third race in Las Vegas continued to build in recent weeks." Vegas "seems like a no-brainer" (ESPN.com, 10/25).

STARK CONTRAST: THE ATHLETIC's Jeff Gluck wrote the motorsports story of this weekend was the "showdown" between F1 and NASCAR: "Positioned head-to-head, racing at the same time in the same time zone, the duel was impossible to ignore." The fact it is even a topic at all "must serve as a reckoning for NASCAR." F1, enjoying a surge of popularity in the U.S., "had all the buzz." Gluck: "Anyone employing a double-screen strategy to watch the races on Sunday had to be struck by the contrasting images: One of a jam-packed, 140,000-strong crowd at Circuit of The Americas ... and the other of a Kansas Speedway race so sparsely attended, TV viewers could read the track's name painted on the seats." Sunday was a "confluence of events a long time in the making," and "though uncomfortable for NASCAR ... it's worth examining what led to this point" (THEATHLETIC.com, 10/25).

COME TOGETHER: The AP's Jenna Fryer wrote F1's first trip to the U.S. in two years "felt like the second coming of The Beatles." Not even NASCAR "would deny it was second fiddle on Sunday." Fryer: "Nobody needed to see the massive crowds at the U.S. Grand Prix to know it: one look at NASCAR grandstands the last two playoff races was confirmation enough." NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin "raised the alarm last week after NASCAR raced in front of a sparse crowd at Texas Motor Speedway, with the three-time Daytona 500 winner calling the turnout 'a big disappointment' just before all the buzz about 'the biggest crowd in history showing up for COTA F1.'" There is "no denying something's missing -- and NASCAR teams know it." The season-opening Daytona 500 typically meets the standards of a high-energy event. Fryer: "The rest of the schedule? Most of it just feels like 35 groundhog days spanning February to November" (AP, 10/25).

INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Sunday's NASCAR Cup Hollywood Casino 400 on NBCSN drew 2.105 million viewers, while ABC's coverage of the U.S. Grand Prix drew 1.225 million viewers (SBJ).

SBJ's Adam Stern recently wrote about F1's growing popularity in the U.S.

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