Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Former Colt Robert Mathis to drive the pace car for INDYCAR Grand Prix

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Robert Mathis, former pro bowl linebacker and pass rusher for the Indianapolis Colts, will drive the 2017 Corvette Stingray Coupe Pace Car at the fourth annual INDYCAR Grand Prix on Saturday, May 13 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Mathis’ spent his entire 14-year NFL career (2003-2016) with the Colts, winning Super Bowl XLI and being named AFC Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-Pro in 2013 after leading the NFL in sacks with 19.5.

“Just when you think it couldn’t get any better, the city known as the Racing Capital of the World grants me a bucket list opportunity!” said an elated Mathis of the opportunity. “Colts, Pacers, Fever, 11, Indians and racing fans all over the world, I will be your official pacesetter this Saturday for the Grand Prix! #IAmIndyAndIndyisMe.”

The INDYCAR Grand Prix is the first event in the famous Month of May for the Verizon IndyCar Series, with everything culminating in the 101st Indianapolis 500 Presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 28.

“Robert Mathis is one of the most popular Colts ever, and his enthusiasm has made him a great ambassador for this city and its vibrant sports culture,” said J. Douglas Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president, about Mathis’ significance to Indianapolis’ sports culture. “He’s a perfect fit to lead The Greatest Drivers in Racing to the green flag at the INDYCAR Grand Prix. We’re also grateful for our longstanding relationship with Chevrolet and can’t wait to see the 2017 Corvette Stingray Coupe at the front of the field this Saturday.”

Practice for the INDYCAR Grand Prix begins Friday 5/12 at 9:15 a.m. ET.

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F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.