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IndyCar: Briscoe leads Ganassi’s second best day of 2014 in Pocono

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With seven finishes between sixth and 12th in the first 10 races of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series, Ryan Briscoe had been thoroughly consistent, but hadn’t yet had that dynamic weekend he’s been looking for on his full-time return to the series after a partial 2013.

He had by far his best run of the year Sunday in the Pocono INDYCAR 500 fueled by Sunoco, qualifying 10th and finishing a season-best fourth in the No. 8 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

With his first top-five of the season, Briscoe is now the 20th different driver to score at least one top-five this season. The only full-season drivers who now haven’t yet cracked the top-five are Takuma Sato, Josef Newgarden and Sebastian Saavedra.

“Things are really looking up for NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing and I’m just glad we finally were able to get a finish that mirrored our efforts,” said Briscoe, who advanced from 13th to ninth in the points standings. “We just keep looking better and better as the season progresses, and I think we have a lot to look forward to in the second half of this season. This track is awesome and it’s been really fun to race on all weekend.”

Briscoe didn’t win on-track, but he definitely won the cuteness award of the day as he held new daughter Finley during a post-race interview with NBCSN’s Jon Beekhuis, with Finley modeling her first IndyCar hard card… unofficially the first baby hard card that we know of.

As for the rest of the Ganassi contingent, Scott Dixon bagged his fifth top-five of the year in P5 but didn’t have the same speed in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet that teammate Tony Kanaan had in the sister No. 10, nor Briscoe in the No. 8.

“It wasn’t a great day for us maybe overall speed-wise, but we had made our way to the top five there at the end of the race and to get a top-five finish after where we started isn’t that bad,” said Dixon, who sits eighth in points. “The Target team worked hard today and you know anything can happen in these long 500-mile races. We kept the car in one piece and I was happy to bring it home for the guys. Hopefully this builds us some momentum for the next few races.”

With the pair of top-five results, this marked Chip Ganassi Racing’s second best day of 2014. The slightly better one came in Detroit Race 2, when Charlie Kimball (third) and Dixon (fourth) also posted two top-five finishes.

Kanaan’s fuel gamble came up snake eyes as he fell to 11th by the finish, while Kimball in the No. 83 Levemir FlexTouch Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet battled a mechanical issue and continued his roller coaster run of results with 17th.

Dixon, eighth on 297 points, is still 149 points behind Team Penske teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves leaving the second double points weekend of the year. Briscoe’s now just 12 points in arrears of Dixon, while Kanaan (267, 11th) and Kimball (239, 15th) sit outside the top-10 in points.

Unless Dixon is able to pull an encore of his Toronto doubleheader weekend sweep a year ago and the Penske pair strike problems, it appears unlikely the talented New Zealander will be able to defend his series championship.

Still, as he, Briscoe and the rest of the Chip Ganassi Racing team head to the final seven races, they can play spoiler as they continue to seek their first race win of the year.

James Key notes similarities between Toro Rosso, Mercedes 2017 F1 cars

MONTMELO, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 26: Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Principal Franz Tost, Daniil Kvyat of Russia and Scuderia Toro Rosso, Carlos Sainz of Spain and Scuderia Toro Rosso and James Key, Technical Director of Scuderia Toro Rosso unveil the Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12 in the pitlane during previews to F1 winter testing at Circuit de Catalunya on February 26, 2017 in Montmelo, Spain.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Scuderia Toro Rosso technical chief James Key has noted the similarities in the design between his team’s new Formula 1 car and Mercedes’ W08 EQ Power+.

Toro Rosso unveiled its new STR12 car on Sunday in Barcelona prior to the start of pre-season testing on Monday, with the team’s striking new livery being the biggest talking point.

After returning to current-year power units courtesy of Renault, hopes are high at Faenza that Toro Rosso could be the surprise package of F1 in 2017, particularly given the change in the regulations.

Speaking to reporters following the STR12’s launch, Key was quick to note that Toro Rosso appeared to have coincidentally gone down a similar path to Mercedes when it came to interpreting the new regulations.

“I looked at the Mercedes and thought: ‘Ah, OK. They’ve got our front suspension’. Most people will say we’ve got Mercedes’ front suspension,” Key said, as quoted by Reuters.

“The nose is similar, the front of the side pods is similar, even the bodywork of the sidepods is similar. Let’s just hope the engines are similar!”

Despite being on the same wavelength as the three-time reigning constructors’ championship-winning team, Key admitted he felt a twinge of disappointment.

“On the one hand we were pleased to see someone else has done a similar thing; on the other hand we were disappointed that we weren’t the only team to think of something,” Key said.

“There are many different concepts out there, actually.”

Toro Rosso finished seventh in last year’s constructors’ championship, having spent the latter part of the season largely hamstrung by the 2015-spec Ferrari engine it was using.

Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat return for another year with Toro Rosso in 2017, with the first public running of the STR12 coming in the next few days at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Formula 1 gets colorful: Here are all 10 liveries for 2017

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Following Scuderia Toro Rosso’s launch of the new STR12 car on Sunday night, the Formula 1 grid is now set ahead of the start of pre-season testing in Barcelona on Monday.

All 10 teams have sported cars that are quite the deviation from their predecessors, as forced by the overhaul of the technical regulations for the new season.

While the changes are mainly in place to make the cars quicker on-track, they also look more visually appealing than the 2016 grid – even if the debate over the ‘shark fin’ is set to rage on.

F1 has also got more colorful, with a number of teams sporting big livery changes that will make cars easier to pick out when you tune in across NBC Sports this season.

Here is what the grid will look like for F1 in 2017.

Mercedes W08 EQ Power+

2017 Silver Arrows Collateral Day Photography - Steve Etherington
© Mercedes AMG Petronas

Red Bull RB13

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© Red Bull Racing

Ferrari SF70H

© Scuderia Ferrari
© Scuderia Ferrari

Force India VJM10

© Sahara Force India
© Sahara Force India

Williams FW40

© Wil
© Williams Martini Racing

McLaren-Honda MCL32

 (Photo by McLaren F1 via Getty Images)
© McLaren F1 via Getty Images

Toro Rosso STR12

© Scuderia T
© Scuderia Toro Rosso

Haas VF-17

© Haas F1 Team
© Haas F1 Team

Renault R.S.17

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Sauber C36

© Sauber
© Sauber

Toro Rosso reveals STR12 F1 car with striking new livery

© Scuderia T
© Scuderia Toro Rosso
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Scuderia Toro Rosso has completed a busy launch week for Formula 1 by unveiling its new STR12 car that will race in 2017.

As rumored, Toro Rosso presented a car with a drastically different livery to the one that has been present for much of its time in F1, varying from the dark blue and red colors the Red Bull sister team has been known for.

Now a metallic blue becomes the primary color for the car, with silver and red highlights being used for the Red Bull branding.

Drivers Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat were on-hand to unveil the STR12, which sported a radical new look to fall in line with the new technical regulations in F1 for 2017.

Most noticeable on the car is the addition of a ‘shark fin’ to the engine cover, something that the majority of teams have ran with for their launches so far.

The team also released a launch video showing the STR12 enjoying its first on-track test.

Toro Rosso ended last year seventh in the constructors’ championship, but suffered a dip in form towards the end of the season after sticking with 2016-spec Ferrari power units.

For 2017, the team will once again link up with Renault and use current-year engines, giving it the chance to compete throughout the campaign.

Sainz was one of F1’s unsung heroes through 2017, leading Toro Rosso’s charge following Max Verstappen’s promotion into a Red Bull seat four races into the year.

After spending the middle part of the season regaining his confidence after moving in the opposite direction to Verstappen, Kvyat looked much stronger in the final flyaways, doing enough to secure a seat with Toro Rosso f0r 2017 in the process.

The STR12 has already completed a filming run at Misano in Italy, but will hit the track publicly for the first time on Monday with the start of pre-season testing in Barcelona.

Marc Marquez dislocates shoulder during private Honda MotoGP test

PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 15:  Marc Marquez of Spain and the Repsol Honda Team rides during 2017 MotoGP pre-season testing at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on February 15, 2017 in Phillip Island, Australia.  (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
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Reigning MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez suffered a dislocated shoulder during a private test earlier this week, the Repsol Honda team has confirmed.

Marquez, 24, was testing with Honda at the Jerez circuit in Spain when he suffered a crash on the second day of running.

The Spaniard sustained a dislocated shoulder, but Honda confirmed that it does not expect him to miss the next private test in Qatar prior to the start of the season.

“Medical checks show neither further damage nor any other injuries, and the rider from Cervera should be fit to finish preseason testing ahead of the first race of the season,” a statement reads.

“Today was a productive day, as we were able to do many laps and to work on our bike well. We did most of the work we had planned, which is good,” Marquez said of his test day.

“I crashed in the afternoon and dislocated my shoulder, but luckily it was nothing serious. Now I’ll have some rest back at home and get ready for the next test, in Qatar.”

The new MotoGP season gets underway on March 26 with the Qatar Grand Prix.