Former F1 star Eddie Irvine has close encounter with a shark

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Retired Formula One star Eddie Irvine faced a lot of battles in his racing career, but likely nothing like the recent run-in he had with a shark.

According to a BBC report, the former Jordan, Ferrari and Jaguar F1 pilot was swimming and spear fishing for dinner in the Atlantic Ocean near his home in the Bahamas when he came face-to-face with a shark.

“I hit a big snapper, but the spear went right through it,” Irvine said. “A big ray came past me and behind it was a seven-foot lemon shark. It was swimming more aggressively than I had seen before.”

The question of whether the shark wanted to get the 48-year-old former F1 star’s autograph or potentially wanted to see what the Northern Ireland native tasted like was never answered, as Irvine wisely put himself in reverse and started working his way back to land in almost slow-motion so as not to spook the shark.

“I watched him and started making for shore and he started to follow me,” Irvine said. “I swam backwards keeping my eye on him and he circled again – then he just came straight for me.”

After keeping its distance, the shark began to zero in on Irvine, who was forced to use his spear as a weapon to keep the shark at bay.

“My island is surrounded by (sharks), but normally they are just three or four footers,” Irvine said. “There was nothing I could do until he got within about three feet, when I could jab him with my spear.”

Irvine said he hit the shark “somewhere on the nose,” causing it to temporarily retreat before coming back for more.

Fortunately for Irvine, he was able to get to some nearby rocks and climbed out of harms way.

“There are lots of sharks here,” he said, “I saw a 12-foot tiger the other day from the boat.”

Josef Newgarden wins pole for Grand Prix of Alabama

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With time running off the clock, Josef Newgarden lapped Barber Motorsports Park with a speed of 122.773 mph to win his third career pole and first on this track in the Grand Prix of Alabama.

Newgarden was .0128 seconds faster than teammate Scott Dixon in second.

Newgarden has two previous wins at Barber. He won last year’s edition of this race after starting seventh and in 2015 from fifth.

“I didn’t know if that was going to be enough,” Newgarden said after winning the pole.

“Team Chevy has done a good job,” Newgarden said. “They’ve really given us good power this weekend – good driveability. We’re going to need some fuel mileage tomorrow, which I think we’ll have. But it’s going to get mixed up with the rain.”

Dixon’s lap of 122.750 mph was not quite enough.

“I’m sure you could pick out a number of different things on a lap when it’s that close,” Power said about what made the slight difference between him and Newgarden. “A little mistake out of 9; a little lift here or there.”

Sebastien Bourdais (122.605 mph) qualified third, with Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.159) and James Hinchliffe (121.859) rounding out the top five.

Scott Dixon was the last driver in the top six.

Fast 12

Newgarden topped this chart with a speed of 123.475 mph.

He brought Power, James Hinchcliffe, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Sebastien Bourdais along with him to the Fast 6.

Marco Andretti (122.480), Alexander Rossi (122.216), Simon Pagenaud (122.050), Robert Wickens (122.042), Zach Veach (121.784) and Ed Jones (120.984) failed to advance.

Round 1, Group 1

Newgarden posted the fastest single lap in round one, group one of qualification for the Grand Prix of Alabama with a speed of 122.550 mph.

Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe, Wickens, and Andretti also advance to the fast 12.

Taking the final slot was Jones with a speed of 119.835 mph after an off-course excursion in final practice.

This was Andretti’s first advancement to the fast 12 for the first time since 2014.

Round 1, Group 2

Power had the fastest lap of 121.570 mph.

Bourdais, Veach (who is battling food poisoning-like symptoms), Rossi, and Pagenaud grabbed positions 2-4.

Scott Dixon had an uncharacteristically slow lap of 121.006, but managed to advance to the fast 12 when the session was red-flagged for an incident involving Tony Kanaan.

With three minutes remaining, Kanaan spun into the tire barriers while leaving pit road. Since he brought out the red flag, he lost his qualification time of 119.996 mph.

Takuma Sato had slipped off-course midway through the session and posted only the Ninth-fastest speed of 120.789 mph.