Helio and Dario both fall short of fourth Indy win

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Today’s Indianapolis 500 was the first in over 25 years that saw two three-time winners of the great race – Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti – go after a fourth victory at the Brickyard.

But neither of them were able to claim the prize and for another year, the four-win club only has A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser as esteemed members.

Even though he stayed toward the front all afternoon, Castroneves only led once for one lap and finished sixth. However, he chose to look at the bigger picture, which involved him maintaining third place in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship behind new points leader Marco Andretti and Takuma Sato (who recovered from an early spin to finish 13th).

“I was just having issues with the [rev] limiter,” said Castroneves. “I was trying to pass a lot of people, but unfortunately, it was hitting the limiter. That was one of those things…We finished top six, which is great championship-wise for points, and that is what we are looking for as well. When you don’t win, you have to look on the positive side, and that is the championship.”

But Castroneves did indeed have a decent day, which is more than can be said for Franchitti. The Scotsman never found the front of the field and ended his day with a crash on Lap 197 shortly after the final restart of the day. That crash would close the race under yellow with Tony Kanaan taking the win.

“Our car was never really good all day,” said Franchitti, who was credited with 23rd place. “In traffic, we couldn’t make anything happen. It was loose in the middle – big understeer. The guys tried something, and we didn’t take tires. I was just going backward, sliding around on those old tires. I went into the first corner on the last restart, and it just didn’t turn and then the hit. The big, old hit.”

Kanaan’s triumph was the only highlight of an otherwise sub-par Sunday for Franchitti, who, like Castroneves, counts the KV Racing Technology driver as one of his good friends.

“When I saw who was leading, it cheered me up a little bit,” he said. “Great, just phenomenal that Tony won. We had a crap day. We were never in contention, but I’m just so happy he won. He’s a very, very deserving winner.”

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.