IndyCar: Castroneves bags Houston Race 2 pole

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Helio Castroneves has secured his second Verizon P1 Award of the Verizon IndyCar Series season, after setting a fastest lap of 59.1702 in the second group of this morning’s qualifying for today’s Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Race 2 (NBCSN, NBC Sports Live Extra, 3 p.m. ET).

The pole position is the 40th of his career, which ties him with Rick Mears for fourth all-time.

Castroneves, driving the throwback Pennzoil livery this weekend for his sponsor’s home race as he also did in Indianapolis, seeks to become the first driver to win from the pole this season. Castroneves finished ninth in yesterday’s Race 1.

“The car was awesome; we missed yesterday by just a bit. Today we didn’t,” Castroneves told IndyCar Radio. “This is fantastic. Its’ the right car to start at the front.”

The two Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates start second and third, with rookie Mikhail Aleshin in a career-best grid position and Simon Pagenaud third after taking the pole on Saturday.

Graham Rahal and Sebastien Bourdais round out the top five.

Points leader Will Power will start 18th for the second day in a row.


Ricciardo: Red Bull has ‘decent chance’ of Abu Dhabi F1 victory

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Daniel Ricciardo believes Red Bull stands a “decent chance” of signing off from the 2017 Formula 1 season with a victory in next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

After a slow start to the year, Red Bull made massive gains across the course of the season by developing its RB13 to end the season as front-runners, rivaling Mercedes and Ferrari for pace.

The Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi has a number of slow-speed sections that should suit the RB13 car, with Ricciardo optimistic about his chances of not only ending his podium drought at the track, but even winning the race.

“Yas Marina has actually been one of my favorite tracks over the years,” Ricciardo said in Red Bull’s pre-race preview.

“It’s been a bit like Suzuka for me though, a track that I’ve always enjoyed and gone well on but not quite reached the podium at. I broke that trend in Suzuka this year so hopefully I can do the same in Abu Dhabi.

“When you have so much time away from the car in the off season it helps to sign off with a strong result as it makes you feel like you really deserve a break.

“I think we should have a strong car in Abu Dhabi. I said I want another win before the season is out and I think we have a decent chance of achieving that.”

Red Bull has claimed three race wins through 2017, with Ricciardo’s victory in Azerbaijan being followed up by successes for teammate Max Verstappen in Malaysia and Mexico.