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Ganassi open to Kyle Larson in Indy 500 – another year

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LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) As the Indianapolis 500 draws near, the tweets starts flooding Chip Ganassi’s inbox all asking the same question: When will he enter Kyle Larson in the Indy 500?

Larson wants to run the race, and Ganassi is open to entering the budding NASCAR star. But it has to make sense for the team, driver and organization.

“I think it’s just a matter of us having the right people and the right timing, and obviously it takes sponsorship,” Ganassi said. “Every time this gets talked about, it’s in April or May. Nobody ever wants to talk about it in June or July or August when it’s time to plan for the next year.

“All these social media people want to blow you up, `Let’s do it!’ Well, it takes a little bit of planning.”

Larson is the current points leader in NASCAR’s Monster Energy Cup Series, and his first win of the season came two weeks ago at Phoenix. He also has three runner-up finishes through the first six races of the year.

Ganassi said there’s no way to enter Larson for next month’s showcase race in Indy, but he’d be hesitant anyway right now.

“Nobody wants to upset what’s going on already,” Ganassi said. “So obviously we are not talking about this May, but a lot can happen between this May and next May. I also think Kyle understands he can’t just get in and push the pedals. He’s starting to understand there’s a little more to it, and I think he’s starting to enjoy himself a little more in NASCAR.”

Ganassi is an enviable position in that there’s no shortage of drivers available should he want to field a fifth car at Indianapolis. His equipment is strong and Honda makes a huge push each year to win the race.

He said that doesn’t mean that Larson isn’t “at or near the top of the list,” but that the car owner can’t snap his fingers and produce a car for Indy.

“I think Kyle understands, we have to weigh what’s good for Kyle and what’s good for the business,” Ganassi said. “If it’s a bad thing for the business, he knows that it doesn’t work. Right now there’s some other things the team needs to work on.

“If he really wants to do it, then we’ll sit down and have a talk about doing it.”

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Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.