Indy 500: Mark Cuban named honorary starter; Formula Off-Road set for ‘Carb Day’

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Dallas Mavericks owner, Shark Tank star, and business tycoon Mark Cuban will wave the green flag to start the 98th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

Earlier this morning, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced that Cuban has been named honorary starter for this year’s Greatest Spectacle in Racing. The 55-year-old has some local ties as a graduate of Indiana University.

“Whether it’s winning an NBA Championship or the honor of waving the green flag to start the Indianapolis 500, there are certain sporting events that are monumental for any true sports fan,” said Cuban in a statement.

“I am excited to come back to Indiana, not just to attend, but actually participate in this historic race.”

IMS president J. Douglas Boles said that in addition to his Indiana links, Cuban brings “a passion for sporting events, and a diverse following of fans around the globe to the flag stand at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

“His successes and personality are well known in the business and entertainment world and we look forward to watching him wave the green flag to start the 98th Indianapolis 500,” he added.

IMS has also announced a new addition to their Coors Light Carb Day lineup: Robby Gordon’s Formula Off-Road series, whose Stadium Super Trucks will compete on a modified course that features the front-stretch of the Brickyard oval and a portion of the infield road course.

It will mark the third time this season that Formula Off-Road will run in conjunction with the Verizon IndyCar Series, and it will also mark Gordon’s return to competition at IMS.

Gordon was a 10-time starter in the Indy 500, which he almost won in 1999 before he ran out of fuel while leading on Lap 199 and had to pit. He also ran 12 times in the Brickyard 400 (NASCAR Sprint Cup Series) with a top finish of sixth in 2003.

“My first trip to Indy as a competitor was in 1993 driving for A.J. Foyt,” he said. “I grew up watching Rick Mears, A.J. and others race at the Speedway and dreamed of driving there, but I never imagined we would race off-road trucks at Indy.

“I have a lot of great memories from Indianapolis and this will be another one added to the list.”

NBCSN will carry Carb Day coverage starting Friday morning at 11 a.m. ET, and will air the “Menards at the Brickyard” Formula Off-Road race on June 13 at Midnight ET.

Toro Rosso at crossroads after Kvyat’s point, Hartley’s strong debut

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In a weekend with something to prove at Circuit of The Americas, Daniil Kvyat rose to the occasion with what he called “his best race of the season for sure” at the United States Grand Prix.

But it may not be enough for the Russian to have saved his seat at Scuderia Toro Rosso for the three final races this year.

Meanwhile, New Zealander Brendon Hartley capped off his roller-coaster debut weekend in Formula 1 with a solid 13th place finish after starting from the rear of the grid, learning as the race went on and bringing home his Toro Rosso chassis to the flag.

Toro Rosso faces a dilemma of three drivers available but only two seats to fill for the final three Grands Prix, with the Mexican Grand Prix coming up just next week.

Frenchman Pierre Gasly will be back after missing Austin due to his Super Formula commitments at Suzuka in Japan, but ultimately that went for naught as the races were canceled due to a typhoon.

Kvyat qualified 12th, was promoted to 11th by way of grid penalties and ended 10th, scoring a point for only the third race this year and first time since coming ninth in the Spanish Grand Prix back in May.

It was a weekend where he would have been expected to outdo Hartley, and did so, but not by a massive margin. And he was already coming in with a track time disadvantage, losing out in FP1 as Indonesian Formula 2 driver Sean Gelael ran in his chassis.

As it was, he rated his weekend performance highly and didn’t do his chances of staying in the car any harm.

Speaking to NBCSN after the race, Kvyat said, “Yeah, it was a perfect race. I did everything well. Brought the points home. It was close with (Felipe) Massa.

“We had some energy release issues on the engine. But it was a massive weekend. It was great. I really enjoyed myself. It was a good job by the team to keep it together with very limited running.

Hartley built up confidence throughout the weekend as he learned the car, the Pirelli tires and how an F1 race races versus an endurance race that he’d been used to doing for several years.

Having coming into the weekend with no expectations and just taking the race session-by-session, he felt good at the end of it.

“There’s so many little things to reflect on,” he told NBCSN. “I’ll put the eyes at rest and process it all. I did the standing start and it wasn’t the best… it’s been a long time.

“But yeah, (you’re learning) in terms of following in traffic, what 20 laps on these tires means, how much you can push it. I’m pretty satisfied. The pace was pretty strong. I made the mistake of getting passed by (Lance) Stroll. I couldn’t pass him back. Lots of challenges. I hope I can get another shot at it.

“Up until this moment… I didn’t want to know. I just wanted to do the job. I’m really relaxed. Now there might be some conversations.”

Toro Rosso figures to reveal its Mexican Grand Prix driver lineup early this week.