Pagenaud paces Saturday morning Long Beach practice

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Simon Pagenaud led IndyCar’s final practice session before qualifying at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The Frenchman lapped the 1.968-mile street circuit in 1:08.0960, more than 1.4 seconds quicker than the fastest times on Friday and still on the Firestone black tires.

Pole time should be in the low 1:07s, perhaps high 1:06 range, once teams have the option to run the softer, alternate, Firestone reds.

Times tumbled at the end of the session as Will Power, Mike Conway, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal all posted their fastest laps at the end of the session to complete the top five.

The session was interrupted for two red flags, both involving Team Penske drivers. Power made contact in Turn 1 and damaged his rear wing, while Helio Castroneves had slight mechanical issues and dropped back. He returned to the track but also had a lazy spin at the end of practice.

Qualifying begins at 5 p.m. EST with TV coverage on at 6 p.m. EST on the NBC Sports Network. Live streaming for Sunday’s race will be available online at http://stream.nbcsports.com/liveextra/.

Qualifying groups for the three rounds of knockout qualifying are below, via INDYCAR:

Group 1                  Group 2
#17 Mike Conway          #1 Ryan Hunter-Reay
#55 Tristan Vautier (R)  #12 Will Power
#16 James Jakes          #3 Helio Castroneves
#10 Dario Franchitti     #98 Alex Tagliani
#14 Takuma Sato          #27 James Hinchcliffe
#19 Justin Wilson        #78 Simona de Silvestro
#15 Graham Rahal         #9 Scott Dixon
#77 Simon Pagenaud       #67 Josef Newgarden
#7 Sebastien Bourdais    #25 Marco Andretti
#11 Tony Kanaan          #4 JR Hildebrand
#5 E.J. Viso             #2 AJ Allmendinger
#18 Ana Beatriz          #83 Charlie Kimball
#6 Sebastian Saavedra    #22 Oriol Servia
                         #20 Ed Carpenter

MRTI: Telitz gets creative to help racing career

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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To say that Belardi Auto Racing’s Aaron Telitz has endured a difficult start to the 2018 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season would be an understatement. The Wisconsin native only completed four corners through the first three races – Races 1 and 2 at St. Petersburg, and Race 1 at Barber Motorsports Park – with St. Pete being especially problematic.

He took the pole for Race 1, but a crash during qualifying for Race 2 prevented him from actually starting. What’s more, the damage was so severe that the Belardi team needed a brand new chassis, with Telitz’s Dallara IL-15 damaged beyond repair.

They also had to borrow a car from Carlin for Race 2, but Telitz’s race ended after he got tangled up with Victor Franzoni in Turn 2 on Lap 1.

With the damage bill well into the six figures as a result, Telitz has taken to some unique, or rather, creative ways to raise money in the aftermath to help cover the costs. “Creative,” in this case, meaning Telitz is using his art skills.

An artist in his spare time, Telitz has begun selling his own original paintings to help raise money.

 “I’ve been to a lot of art shows and I see stuff and I go, ‘Holy cow, someone’s going to pay a thousand dollars for that thing?’” Telitz quipped in a story posted on the Milwaukee Journal.

In discussing his artistic abilities, Telitz added, “I’m working at getting better. I’d like to be able to paint some animals, those types of things. I got a request from Alexander Rossi to see if I could paint his dog. Unfortunately I can’t do that yet.”

Further, in a partnership with The Styled Garage, Telitz is selling his own merchandise, and accepting donations, to help his cause.

Telitz finished fourth in Race 2 at Barber on Sunday, and sits seventh in the Indy Lights championship, 59 points behind leader Pato O’Ward.

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