Indy 500 qualifying update, through two runs: Frantic hour sees several 230-plus runs (UPDATED)

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UPDATED, 3:10 P.M. ET: A frantic hour of action has seen a bunch of drivers go ahead and attempt a second Indianapolis 500 qualification attempt to see if they could improve their speeds, before a slight drizzle has hit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

If a driver improved, so too would their position. But they would not lose their original speed and time.

Will Power has now jumped to the top of the time sheets with a four-lap average of 230.323 mph.

Power told the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network: “We found more in the car and the conditions are different. We had the right gear and downforce level for this run. I think a lot of people are gonna go quicker now. But that should be at least for the next couple hours. I have to look at the points. OK, yeah, that’s something to consider, since you don’t lose your best speed if you get out.

The top nine at 3:10 p.m. ET: Power 230.323, Ed Carpenter 230.114, Simon Pagenaud 230.070, JR Hildebrand 230.027, Ryan Hunter-Reay 230.011, Kurt Busch 229.960, Marco Andretti 229.836, Helio Castroneves 229.788, and Jack Hawksworth 229.732.

Here’s a rundown of the attempts in this stint, with the driver’s first run on the left and second on the right. Note Pagenaud is the only driver thus far to make three attempts, and he went to P3 on his third.

ROUND 2+ OF ATTEMPTS
                      First run		    Next run
77 Pagenaud		228.749/P15		229.193/P13
3  Castroneves	        229.456/P10		229.788/P3
22 Karam		-			228.650/P18
26 Busch		229.256/P12		229.960/P3
2  Montoya		229.594/P9		229.727/P6
7  Aleshin		228.385/P22		229.091/P14
10 Kanaan		228.064/P25		Waved off
63 Mann		        227.721/P30		No improvement
34 Munoz		229.590/P10		No improvement
12 Power		229.649/P9		230.323/P1
21 Hildebrand	        229.453/P12		230.027/P3
25 Andretti		229.663/P10		229.836/P6
15 Rahal		228.664/P18		No improvement 
67 Newgarden	        229.471/P11		229.637/P11
77 Pagenaud  	        229.193/P13		230.070/P3
16 Servia		228.034/P26		No improvement 
83 Kimball		228.710/P17		Rain

ORIGINAL, 1:35 P.M. ET: The first runs of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 are in the books. Here’s where we stand:

  • Ed Carpenter and Ryan Hunter-Reay are over 230 mph with their four-lap runs.
  • Kurt Busch has qualified at 229.256 mph. Of his lap, Busch told the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network: “It went by so fast. I wasn’t as focused as what I was this morning. You’re so busy, trusting the car, knowing the corners. Here you take downforce off, and it makes it exciting. Not just one lap, it’s four. It keeps you busy. I did four laps but it felt like one. I wasn’t in the zone and might have left something. It’s a big challenge to qualify the car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”
  • James Hinchcliffe slotted into third with his run, eventually bumped back to fourth by teammate Hunter-Reay. “It was a week of uncertainlty. They took good care of me to come back. I’m just so happy to have not missed this. Pole weekend is second only to the race. To miss that, I would have been bummed. The car was a big part of that. We have to find a little bit more speed.”
  • Jacques Villeneuve, 1995 Indianapolis 500 champion, made his first qualifying run in 19 years: “It was nice and easy. We didn’t have that much time. We don’t need the qualifying points. The top 9 is pointless for us. We’re actually really happy. In ’95, it was edgy; I wasn’t flat on the four laps. More power. Now it’s a question of momentum. The speed’s similar, but it drives differently.”
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay, in P2 thus far: “It was for sure a good run. We’re fighting a championship as well. But I’m fully expecting the track to go quicker.”
  • The top nine right now: Carpenter, Hunter-Reay, rookie Jack Hawksworth, Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti, Will Power, Juan Pablo Montoya, Carlos Munoz and Josef Newgarden.
  • The rest of the runners, 10-32: Helio Castroneves, JR Hildebrand, Kurt Busch, Justin Wilson, Takuma Sato, Simon Pagenaud, Charlie Kimball, Graham Rahal, Townsend Bell, Scott Dixon, Sebastien Bourdais, Mikhail Aleshin, Sebastian Saavedra, Jacques Villeneuve, Tony Kanaan, Oriol Servia, Carlos Huertas, Alex Tagliani, Martin Plowman, Pippa Mann, Ryan Briscoe, James Davison and Buddy Lazier.
  • So far rookie Sage Karam has not gone out.
QUALIFYING PROGRESSION
91 Lazier, Did Not Run
34 Munoz, 229.590
21 Hildebrand, 229.453
2  Montoya, 229.594
9  Dixon, 228.501
20 Carpenter, 230.114
98 Hawksworth, 229.732
18 Huertas, 227.904
8  Briscoe, 227.201
3  Castroneves, 229.456
19 Wilson, 228.947
63 Mann, 227.721
41 Plowman, 227.774
25 Andretti, 229.663
26 Busch, 229.256
7  Aleshin, 228.385
15 Rahal, 228.664
27 Hinchcliffe, 229.672
5  Villeneuve, 228.171
12 Power, 229.649
17 Saavedra, Did Not Run
33 Davison, Did Not Run
77 Pagenaud, 228.749
83 Kimball, 228.710
10 Kanaan, 228.064
67 Newgarden, Did Not Run
6  Bell, 228.508
68 Tagliani, 227.813
22 Karam, Did Not Run
14 Sato, 228.786
28 Hunter-Reay, Did Not Run
16 Servia, 228.034
11 Bourdais, 228.388

AFTER INITIAL PROGRESSION
17 Saavedra, 228.294
67 Newgarden, 229.471
33 Davison, 226.761
28 Hunter-Reay, 230.011
91 Lazier, 226.543

F1’s 2017 can match 2013’s mark of no back-to-backs this week

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One of the interesting nuggets about this 2017 Formula 1 season, as the year has ebbed and flowed between Mercedes and Ferrari on top with the occasional Red Bull surprise, is that a single driver has not recorded back-to-back victories through the first 10 races.

Sebastian Vettel kicked proceedings off at Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton then winning his first race of the year in Shanghai in the rain at the Chinese Grand Prix.

From there, it’s gone Vettel, Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton, Vettel, Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo, Bottas and Hamilton heading into this week’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

When looking back in the archives, you only need to look four years ago to 2013 to find the last time a season started with 10 races and no drivers having won back-to-backs Grands Prix – a streak which ran 11 races.

Kimi Raikkonen won at Melbourne to start the year, with Vettel then winning his first race of 2013 in controversial fashion in the infamous “Multi 21” Red Bull team orders fiasco with Mark Webber in Sepang at Melaysia.

Fernando Alonso then won for Ferrari, followed by Vettel, Alonso (that being his most recent Grand Prix win, Spain of 2013), Nico Rosberg, Vettel, Rosberg, Vettel, Hamilton and Vettel. Hamilton’s win at Hungary in 2013 was his first win for the Mercedes AMG Petronas team after switching from McLaren.

But from here, Vettel won the Belgian Grand Prix, Round 11 of that season, for what was his fifth victory of the season… and promptly ran the table from there. After there were no back-to-back winners in 10 races, Vettel won the last nine consecutively. His radio call after winning at Circuit of The Americas – “cherish these times” because you don’t know how long they’ll last – was particularly prescient as he never won again for Red Bull after 2013, then departed for Ferrari in 2015.

A year earlier, the 2012 season set an incredible mark with the first 14 races occurring before a driver recorded back-to-back victories, and again, it was Vettel who was first to win two in a row when he did at Singapore and Japan that season. Prior to that, the campaign opened with seven winners in as many races (Jenson Button, Alonso, Rosberg, Vettel, Pastor Maldonado, Webber, Hamilton) with a handful of those then winning further races from there.

As it sits now, Vettel hasn’t won since Monaco and the Hungaroring in Budapest – a similar low horsepower, high downforce type of track – represents his best chance to win his fourth Grand Prix of the season.

Hamilton, meanwhile, is already a four-time winner this year and a five-time winner in Hungary in his career.

A Vettel win would keep the streak of no back-to-back winners alive, with 11 races without a driver going back-to-back. A Hamilton win would end it at 10 and make him the first driver to put together a streak this year.

Either way, it’s been a refreshing change of pace because here have been the runs drivers have gone on since that 11-for-11 start without back-to-backs in the last five years (three race in a row or more win streaks; there have been several more two in a row streaks):

  • 2013: Vettel wins last nine races in a row (Rounds 11-19)
  • 2014: Hamilton wins four straight (Rounds 2-5), then wins five straight (Rounds 13-17)
  • 2015: Hamilton wins three straight (Rounds 14-16), Rosberg wins three straight (Rounds 17-19)
  • 2016: Rosberg wins four straight (Rounds 1-4), Hamilton wins four straight (Round 9-12), Rosberg wins three straight (Rounds 13-15), Hamilton wins four straight (Rounds 18-21)

Hungarian Grand Prix on NBCSN concludes busy July for F1

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The third Grand Prix for the month of July and fourth in the last six weeks for Formula 1 after races in Baku, Spielberg and Silverstone takes place this week with the Hungarian Grand Prix from Budapest.

After a couple races on CNBC, the channel is simple this weekend: it’s NBCSN for all sessions on TV with free practice two (Friday) and qualifying (Saturday) both live at 8 a.m. ET, with a full one-hour countdown for the race from 7 a.m. ET on Sunday before lights out at 8.

As per usual the NBC Sports App will live stream free practices one and three, with all sessions streamed during the weekend.

The British Grand Prix two weeks ago brings this year’s F1 season to an interesting point. With Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton’s win, it brings him to within just one point of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel for the championship lead. Vettel is at 177 with Hamilton now at 176.

And Hungary’s been a place where both drivers have succeeded. Hamilton won here last year while Vettel won in 2015. Overall Hamilton has a record five Hungarian Grand Prix victories (2007, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2016) and will look to match his Canada total with a sixth this weekend. Vettel’s 2015 win is his only triumph at the circuit.

Other Hungarian Grand Prix winners in the field are Daniel Ricciardo (2014), Kimi Raikkonen (2005) and Fernando Alonso (2003).

Beyond the top two, Valtteri Bottas will look to upend proceedings and continue his own title battle for Mercedes. He sits third in points with 154, in a spot of his own well clear of fourth on back and just under a full race distance behind the leaders.

Here’s the schedule, with stream links and TV network if applicable:

  • Practice 1: Friday, July 28, 4 a.m.-5:30 a.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Practice 2: Friday, July 28, 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 2 (Replay): Saturday, July 29, 6:30 a.m.-8 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 3: Saturday, July 29, 5 a.m.-6 a.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Qualifying: Saturday, July 29, 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Pre-Race: Sunday, July 30, 7 a.m.-8 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race: Sunday, July 30, 8 a.m.-10 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Post-Race: Sunday, July 30, 10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race (Replay): Sunday, July 30, 9:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Formula 2: Sunday, July 30, 6 a.m.-7 a.m. ET (NBCSN)

The next race is the Belgian Grand Prix, on August 27, after F1’s traditional summer break.

Robert Hight extends Funny Car victory streak to 13 seasons

Photo: Gary Nastase and Auto Imagery
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MORRISON, Colo. (AP) Robert Hight beat Tommy Johnson Jr. on Sunday in the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway to extend his Funny Car victory streak to 13 seasons.

Hight topped Johnson with a 3.995-second pass at 317.57 mph in a Chevrolet Camaro SS for his 38th career victory.

“We definitely struggled through the first few rounds and we were lucky to get those round wins, but I have a great team who figured things out and helped get me to the winner’s circle,” Hight said. “It’s definitely a long-time coming and we hadn’t had much luck, but today we had some luck and we hope this continues throughout the Western Swing.”

Antron Brown won in Top Fuel, Drew Skillman in Pro Stock, and Eddie Krawiec in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Brown edged teammate and No. 1 qualifier Leah Pritchett with a 3.792 at 319.82. He has three victories this season to push his career total to 64.

Skillman raced to his second straight victory and the fifth of his career, beating points leader Bo Butner with a 6.916 run at 198.15 in a Camaro.

Krawiec topped Matt Smith with a 7.145 at 188.28. The Harley-Davidson rider has two victories this season and 38 overall.

Sauber confirms Matsushita for Hungary test as well

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Honda junior driver Nobuhiro Matsushita will have a run with Sauber F1 Team on the second day of the Hungarian Grand Prix post-race week test, in the team’s C36 chassis.

Sauber’s engine selection for 2018 is up in the air. While the team announced a switch from year old Ferraris to Hondas, this was done under prior team principal Monisha Kaltenborn and rumors have persisted the deal may be off, or wasn’t fully done in the first place.

That Matsushita is running at this test for his first day in an F1 car – Gustav Malja will run on day one – could indicate the Honda switch isn’t yet a dead topic.

“When I was four years old, I was fascinated by Michael Schumacher, watching him racing in Formula 1. Since then my dream was to become a Formula 1 driver,” he said. “I am very excited about my first Formula 1 test and I am really looking forward to driving the Sauber C36-Ferrari at the Hungaroring – it is a great opportunity for me. I hope it will be a productive day for the team as well as for myself, so that I can learn as much as possible. I would like to thank the Sauber F1 Team for making this happen.”

New team boss Frederic Vasseur, formerly of Renault, gave his take on the test.

“I am pleased that Nobuharu has this great opportunity. He deserves the experience of his first test in a Formula 1 car. Ever since his debut in Formula 2 with ART Grand Prix, I have been following his progress closely, and have watched him advance his performance from year to year. With this Formula 1 test, he comes one step closer to his dream of becoming an F1 driver one day.”