Hondy Indy 200 Practice

Hunter-Reay grabs crucial Mid-Ohio pole

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Ryan Hunter-Reay missed the track record by a few thousandths of a second, but took a pivotal pole position for the IZOD IndyCar Series’ Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network).

The driver of the No. 1 DHL Chevrolet for Andretti Autosport lapped the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 1:05.3519 to win the Verizon P1 Award, just off the jointly shared (Gil de Ferran, Dario Franchitti) track record of 1:05.347. He beat three Ganassi, another Andretti and another Penske car in the Firestone Fast 6.

Hunter-Reay won the only prior permanent road course race of 2013 at Barber Motorsports Park in April. A rough three-race stretch now sees him 69 points behind series leader Helio Castroneves entering the weekend. But Hunter-Reay’s third pole of the season could not have come at a better time, and it came after a tire gamble.

“Anytime you qualify around this place in IndyCar is one of the best times you’ll have in a car,” said Hunter-Reay. “Michael made the call to (save reds). I was skeptical at first, but I kind of just wanted to plug my ears and let them make the decision. I’d go out and drive it as best I could.”

Power qualified second as he continues his search for his first win of 2013. Marco Andretti, in his first Firestone Fast 6 appearance of 2013, has his best start of the year just behind, with Scott Dixon fourth.

Dixon is surging as he seeks his fourth consecutive win of the season, his third in a row at Mid-Ohio and fifth in the last seven years at the track. He outqualified Ganassi teammates Charlie Kimball and Dario Franchitti on the day.

Kimball posted a nice rebound after a morning crash sent him to a backup car. It marks the first time all three Ganassi cars have been in the Fast 6 this season.

Going back to the start of qualifying, those who advanced from Group 1 in Q1 included all three Ganassi cars, Simona de Silvestro, Justin Wilson and E.J. Viso. Those from Group 2 were Hunter-Reay, Simon Pagenaud, Power, Tristan Vautier, Andretti and James Jakes.

Tough luck loser from Group 2 in Q1 was Barracuda Racing’s Luca Filippi. The Italian caused a red flag and lost his two fastest laps; his best of 1:05.9847 would have put him fourth in the session, but as it is, he’ll start shotgun on the 24-car field for his IndyCar debut.

Wilson, Pagenaud, de Silvestro, Jakes, Vautier and Viso were knocked out in Q2 and take up spots P7-12 on the grid.

Power and Hunter-Reay made their fifth Firestone Fast 6 of 2013, Franchitti his fourth, Dixon his third, Kimball his second and Andretti his first.

Lorenzo looking to Honda, Ducati for help in MotoGP title race

ALCANIZ, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 27:  Jorge Lorenzo of Spain and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP celebrates the victory on the podium at the end of the MotoGP race during the MotoGP of Spain - Race at Motorland Aragon Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Alcaniz, Spain.  (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)
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Jorge Lorenzo hopes that he can get some help from the Honda and Ducati riders in his championship battle with Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi in the final four races of the 2015 MotoGP season.

Lorenzo currently trails Rossi by 14 points at the top of the riders’ championship, and with just four races to go, barring an unlikely run of results, the title will go to a Yamaha rider for the first time since 2012.

The formbook offers little in the way of clues for the Lorenzo/Rossi battle, for although Lorenzo has won more races, Rossi has been more consistent, finishing off the podium just once this season.

Lorenzo had hoped to reel Rossi in last time out at Motorland Aragon, but the Italian rider managed to finish third, minimizing the damage of his teammate’s victory.

Nevertheless, Lorenzo was pleased to bounce back after two disappointing races at Silverstone and Misano, having lost ground on Rossi in the title race.

“I am very happy with this victory because it came after two races that were a bit disappointing and I expected to take more points, but due to a few factors and especially the weather, I failed to achieve the desired result,” Lorenzo said. “The victory in Motorland [Aragon] was crucial.”

Rossi was beaten to second place by Honda’s Dani Pedrosa after a titanic battle in the closing stages of the last race, and Lorenzo hopes that the Spaniard, among others, could aid his cause inadvertently again in the remaining four races.

“[Pedrosa] was very strong and it was useful to recover the points lost earlier and it has given me more chances to recover with four races left until the end,” Lorenzo said.

“But [Marc] Marquez or maybe the two Ducati riders could also stand in front of Valentino and take away some points. It is a real possibility, but very dangerous for us both.”

The next round of the MotoGP season takes place at Motegi, Japan next weekend.

Steiner: Haas F1 Team could not afford rookie mistakes

KANNAPOLIS, NC - SEPTEMBER 29:  (L-R) Gunther Steiner, team principal of Haas F1 Team, Romain Grosjean of France, and Gene Haas, owner of Haas F1 Team, pose for a photo opportunity after Haas F1 Team announced Grosjean as their driver for the upcoming 2016 Formula 1 season on September 29, 2015 in Kannapolis, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Stewart-Haas Racing via Getty Images)
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Günther Steiner has said that Haas Formula 1 Team could not afford to have its drivers making rookie mistakes during its debut season in the sport, reasoning the decision to only sign experienced racers for 2016.

On Tuesday, Haas unveiled Lotus driver Romain Grosjean as its first signing for next season, luring the Frenchman away from Enstone after ten years of association.

The second seat is set to go to either Esteban Gutierrez or Jean-Eric Vergne, who both work as development drivers for Ferrari and both have at least two seasons of racing under their belt.

As team principal, Steiner (pictured left) will work under team owner Gene Haas, and said that both had agreed that a rookie driver for season one would be unwise.

“We looked around a lot to find the right guy because we wanted somebody with experience but still hungry to do something, to go with us this long way,” Steiner explained.

“I started talks with the management of Romain in Barcelona to see if he’s interested and, you know, we spoke to quite a few drivers, and in the end I spoke also with technical people, what they think about Romain, how he develops a car.

“We have got a steep mountain to climb here, new team, all new team members, so we needed somebody who knows what he’s doing. I think in the end we found the right guy because he has so much ‘want to drive’ now, and he’s still aggressive or still wants it.

“He’s not [so] young anymore that he’s inexperienced. We lose time by having accidents or doing rookie mistakes. I think we just picked the best one out there for what we are doing, and we focused on him and got him, and we are very happy and we are looking forward to working with him.”