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Haas F1 Team banks first double Q3 appearance in Suzuka

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Haas F1 Team has achieved an incredible accomplishment, by getting both its Haas VF-16 Ferraris into Q3 for Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix (midnight ET on Sunday morning/9 p.m. PT on Saturday evening, NBCSN).

Romain Grosjean matched his car number and will line up eighth, while Esteban Gutierrez will start 10th in his No. 21 car.

It’s quite an accomplishment for the first-year team and comes following a series of mechanical issues – primarily with the brakes – that have prevented the team from fulfilling its potential in terms of results in recent Grands Prix.

Grosjean, who came third in the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix, didn’t say he was entirely comfortable but was still pleased with his result.

“It felt pretty good. Quali went pretty smoothly,” Grosjean told NBCSN’s Will Buxton. “There’s still a bit to improve. We used the new front wing today and it’s very positive for the future of the team. It’s going in the right direction. It translated into good aerodynamic performance. Quali went nice. Between seventh and eighth, and here we are.”

Asked whether he thought the brakes issue was sorted, he was non-committal, and instead noted that he’s struggled trying to get the balance right on the tires.

“I’m still not at my best yet! There’s a few things I’m not pleased with,” he admitted. “I’ve struggled with the tires. They can’t take much load. It just doesn’t work. So I have to find a fine balance.”

On the race prospects itself, Grosjean said, “Hopefully we get a good start and it’s not so easy to overtake. Once we have our pace, it’s a case of getting the best tire degradation.”

Gutierrez starts 10th in search of his first points this season – he’s finished just outside them in 11th on five occasions – and looks for his first points in F1 since his first and thus far only career score, seventh place for Sauber in that same 2013 Japanese Grand Prix.

“I’m quite happy today. It’s an incredible achievement for the whole team,” Gutierrez told Buxton. “We managed to put everything together. We have a fantastic starting position for tomorrow. We are trying to find ourselves the fine-tuning.

“We improve step by step, our level of knowledge is improving. We know how to recover on a weekend. We started with poor pace. We put in the best performance of the season.”

GoDaddy to sponsor Patrick in ‘Danica Double’ at Daytona, Indy — now all she needs are rides

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By The Associated Press

Danica Patrick is going back to green.

GoDaddy Green, to be exact – a fitting color for her farewell tour.

The company will sponsor Patrick in the upcoming “Danica Double” that will close out her racing career, The Associated Press has learned. Patrick has no ride yet for next month’s Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500 in May, but she now has the financial backing to pull it off.

This time around, the original GoDaddy Girl will symbolize the new core mission of the company that helped make her one of the world’s most recognizable athletes.

“There’s this great story: I left IndyCar with GoDaddy on my car, I started NASCAR with GoDaddy on my car, I’m most recognized as the GoDaddy green car and driver, and so to finish up my career that way feels appropriate,” Patrick told the AP from Scottsdale, Arizona.

Her final race will be the Indy 500, an appropriate choice because it was “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” that rocketed Patrick and GoDaddy into pop culture notoriety.

GoDaddy and Patrick grew up together. The company switched series with her and marketed her as a strong, sexy woman in 13 Super Bowl commercials – a record appearance for celebrities. Now, the company is most interested in Patrick the budding businesswoman who is firmly closing the door on her racing career and rebranding herself as an entrepreneur . She has a book out, an apparel line, a wine label and confirmed to AP this week that she’s dating Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“Our goals are so well-aligned,” Barb Rechterman, the chief marketing officer of GoDaddy, told AP. “She’s passionate, tenacious and creative just like so many of our customers who are also looking to leverage the power of the internet and turn their `side hustle’ into a full-time business. Danica absolutely epitomizes the heart of our GoDaddy customers.”

Prepare to hear a lot about the “side hustle” as GoDaddy climbs aboard the so-far fledgling “Danica Double.”

Patrick announced in November she would end her driving career with the Daytona 500 and Indy 500, but didn’t have a deal completed for either race. Still doesn’t. Yet somehow, Patrick always figures a way to get what she wants. Talks ended with Chip Ganassi Racing about a possible ride, and late last month, Patrick said, she called former GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons and asked about a reunion.

GoDaddy has rebranded since it last teamed with Patrick. The company now touts itself as “the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures,” and there’s no better spokeswoman than Patrick, who is in the next chapter of her life and her brand.

GoDaddy pulled out of racing after the 2015 season, and Patrick hasn’t had the same level of funding and marketing support since. Patrick has slowly reshaped her image, first into a Instagram model and is now a full-blown lifestyle guru. She realized – at the age of 35 – she was on her own.

She and GoDaddy aligned for a splashy move into NASCAR, where she was glamorous off the track but only mediocre on it. Through all of this, she was married, divorced, spent five years dating fellow driver and competitor Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and then seemed to find herself through a tailored diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

She is cutting the cord on racing after Indy, and her focus is on a sense of well-being far away from the track.

“Their business is so perfectly paired to what is going on with mine, so when we sat down and met, it was like, `Let’s talk about our business. Let’s talk about the messaging. How does this work?”‘ Patrick said. “And this is undeniably perfect for both of us. Not only is it a huge two races and the biggest two races of the year, but on top of that, you have so much `side hustle’ going on, and all the messaging and our brands, and where we are going is so perfectly paired.”w

GoDaddy can help Patrick move on to whatever it is for racing’s former “It Girl.” The company will help her streamline her online presence. Patrick, for the company, is back as a neon green-and-yellow symbol to all the wannabe entrepreneurs chasing dreams.

She’ll get those rides, too. Patrick said she knows she will because she believes she will.

“That’s just the way the universe works,” she said. “You have to ask for what you want. Things have taken a long time with this, but you just have to go with the flow on these things. The universe is not on your time schedule.”

More AP auto racing: https://racing.ap.org/