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Livery reveals headline Thursday notes from INDYCAR GP

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INDIANAPOLIS – A pair of official livery reveals – and one other car’s livery being teased – headlined the Thursday of INDYCAR Grand Prix weekend, ahead of Round 5 of the Verizon IndyCar Series season on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. There was no track activity today except for the three rungs of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires ladder.

Harvey, Veach liveries revealed

Within the last 24 hours, two of the four rookies competing in this year’s 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil have had their liveries revealed.

Jack Harvey’s No. 50 Honda for the Michael Shank Racing with Andretti Autosport combination features a striking yellow, pink and black combination and notable sponsors AutoNation and Gap Guard among the items on the car. Of note here, Tim Keene, Shank’s general manager, will serve as Harvey’s race strategist.

Harvey, Shank and Michael Andretti all spoke at the launch, held at Andretti’s hospitalty on the IMS grounds. Fuller interviews with them will appear in the coming days on NBCSports.com.

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The night before at the Foyt Wine Vault, Zach Veach’s No. 40 Chevrolet for AJ Foyt Racing was released, along with the ticket for the Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim, the LPGA event to be held at the Brickyard Crossing golf course in September.

While the Indy Women in Tech Championship is the primary sponsor, Sexton Companies and Alfe Heat Treating are also rather visible on this car.

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Nearly all the Indy 500 liveries are out now, as well

The two rookies were not the only drivers who have their liveries out. There have been another three either formally released or teased, as well.

Pippa Mann’s No. 63 Honda for Dale Coyne Racing features the similar pink as she’s had the last three years, but is not primarily pink as it has been those years.

Susan G. Komen is a partner and is on for a fourth straight year. Other announced entities include Genetic Technologies (BREVAGenplus), OrthoIndy (which isn’t on car, but was announced as strong partner), Tamarack Agency, Clear Software and Boosterville, with others also including Towne Post Network, MadeInSpace, Visit Indy, and Momentum Group. Mann has also hinted at an announcement regarding MadeInSpace to come soon.

She also announced as an ambassador for #Driven2SaveLives earlier this week. Her #GetInvolved 2017 campaign is also live. The livery rendering is below, and is being wrapped by the Dale Coyne Racing crew at the Speedway.

Oriol Servia’s No. 16 Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has not been formally released, but the garage sign above his garage in Gasoline Alley seems to hint at what figures to look like a similar yellow-and-white car as Spencer Pigot had last year.

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There’s been one other tease, as well. With a soft launch of a gold-and-white No. 3 Chevrolet for Shell, Helio Castroneves’ livery looks intense. It should be revealed fully next week.

Juncos Racing’s quick prep and strong engineering team

Both Juncos Racing cars are here and being prepped. To denote the separate liveries, look for more orange accents on Sebastian Saavedra’s No. 17 Chevrolet and more yellow accents on Spencer Pigot’s No. 11 Chevrolet on near identical green-and-white canvasses.

People may not be used to the size or scale of operation Ricardo Juncos assembles, but the crew and other staff brought on is strong ahead of the Argentine’s IndyCar and Indianapolis 500 debuts.

The Pigot and Saavedra deals were announced this week, and will feature three aces on the engineering front. Tom Brown, an IndyCar and sports car veteran who’s recently been with CORE autosport and Starworks Motorsport in the IMSA paddock, will serve as the overall engineering head.

Steve Newey, another who’s in sports cars with Stevenson Motorsports and has a wealth of IndyCar experience both as an engineer and team co-owner, will serve as Pigot’s race engineer. Interestingly, both Newey and Pigot were both with Ed Carpenter Racing last year, but not simultaneously; Newey was JR Hildebrand’s engineer for the month of May, while Pigot was still at RLL before joining ECR at Detroit.

David Cripps will be Saavedra’s race engineer. Another IndyCar veteran, Cripps has been in-and-out with teams in recent years, and has also been involved with the U.S. Olympic Bobsled Team in recent years.

Greg Senerius, Sebastien Bourdais’ former crew chief at KV Racing Technology, is one of several ex-KVRT alumni as part of this program.

Jay Frye and INDYCAR have been incredibly helpful and instrumental in Juncos’ arrival into the series. While there is still a steep learning curve for the team to face in the new series, it’s a step they’re ready to take on and preparing to take.

Sebastien Bourdais released from IU Methodist hospital; begins rehab

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INDIANAPOLIS – Sebastien Bourdais only posted just yesterday that he was “unable to go for a run” – his spirit and humor clearly not affected despite sustaining multiple pelvic fractures and a fractured right hip in his crash during qualifying for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in the No. 18 GEICO Honda on Saturday.

On Thursday, his post revealed even better news: he’s been released from IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, and will be set to fly home soon to Florida for his rehabilitation.

Bourdais’ place in the race at Dale Coyne Racing will be taken by James Davison, but judging by this first round of leaving, the Frenchman is keen to begin the recovery process as quick as humanly possible.

Bottas remains confident he can close gap in F1 title race

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MONACO (AP) Valtteri Bottas has put his recent bad luck behind him and remains confident he can close the gap in the Formula One title race at this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.

The Finnish driver’s fledgling Mercedes career has been a topsy-turvy one since he joined from Williams as a replacement for F1 champion Nico Rosberg.

He drove brilliantly to win his first career race at the Russian Grand Prix after securing his first ever pole position in Sochi last month. But two weeks ago he was undone by engine problems in practice for the Spanish GP and then failed to finish because of a turbo issue late in the race.

“It’s one to forget for sure. It’s been a bit up and down for me this year,” Bottas said Wednesday at the Monaco GP. “Bad result, good result.”

His other results so far are two third places and one sixth place, putting him 41 points behind four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel and 35 behind three-time champion Lewis Hamilton, his Mercedes teammate.

“The gap to Sebastian, to Lewis, is bigger than I was hoping for this year. But things can change quickly,” Bottas said. “What gives me confidence is that there is still 75 percent of the season left. I feel my best races are ahead this year. I feel I’ve done a good job in some races, but I feel there is more to come to be at a consistently good level.”

Although Bottas has impressed with this speed, he has yet to show the hallmarks of a genuine title contender.

His magnanimous approach goes somewhat against that.

Bottas showed his team ethic by allowing Hamilton past him in Bahrain so that the British driver could chase after Vettel.

He did so again in Barcelona, holding up Vettel for a crucial few laps. That allowed Hamilton to gain some precious seconds on Vettel’s chasing Ferrari. Hamilton won a thrilling race, Vettel was second and Bottas got nothing – except praise for his efforts.

It is a difficult situation for Bottas, who is on a one-year contract and has the added pressure of the demanding Hamilton as a teammate. With 55 race wins to his name, Hamilton is clearly the No. 1 driver, even though the team has not officially said so.

Over the past three years, Hamilton was on an equal footing with Rosberg as they fought each other for the title. This led to tensions and fall outs.

The 27-year-old Bottas is not relishing the prospect of finding himself in a similar position. But it might become inevitable if he does manage to close the gap on Hamilton and turn the title race into a genuine three-way battle.

“I can’t even imagine how it can be after a few years with a teammate battling for the title always. There is respect both ways (with Hamilton), which is good,” Bottas said. “(We are) just enjoying working together and hopefully that will help us in this close fight with Ferrari. It is a team sport anyway, so we need to push forward together.”

It’s hardly the talk of a driver desperate to win the title.

F1 Paddock Pass: Monaco Grand Prix (VIDEO)

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From the streets of Monte Carlo, Monaco, comes the crown jewel of the Formula 1 season (all times for the weekend via NBC or NBCSN here) this weekend, the Monaco Grand Prix.

And here with the pre-race updates from the paddock are NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton and producer Jason Swales, along with the race crew from the F1 on NBC team who are on site in Monaco.

This is an interesting weekend for Monaco, given the Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel battle for race wins and the championship so far in 2017. There’s also the question of whether someone can spring a surprise in Monaco, as has been done on several occasions over the years.

Here’s the show, below:

Brown wants to see F1 back at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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McLaren executive director Zak Brown would like to see Formula 1 return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the future, saying it would “make sense” for the sport.

The United States Grand Prix was held on the old IMS road course between 2000 and 2007 before dropping off the calendar, with a low point being hit in 2005 when just six cars started the race over tire safety concerns.

IMS re-designed its road course in order to host MotoGP and, from 2014, an IndyCar road course race as a prelude to the Indianapolis 500.

F1 is known to be looking to expand its footprint in the United States following Liberty Media’s takeover of the series, with additional races to the current USGP at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas being sought after.

Southern California has also been a talking point; Long Beach’s future has been discussed in the press more so than has Indianapolis, as a consulting firm has been brought in to examine what would be the best case scenario for the city.

Brown has spent a significant amount time this last month in Indianapolis as part of two-time F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso’s Indy 500 entry, and feels the sport would be wise to push for a return to the Brickyard in the near future.

“I am of the opinion that Formula 1 at IMS works. I think they’ve changed the configuration of the track a little bit,” Brown said during a teleconference on Wednesday.

“I think it makes sense for Formula 1 to be at the world’s greatest racetrack. I think the city of Indianapolis is well catered to take care of Formula 1, just like it did in the past, and the Super Bowl.

“I think the drivers like it. I think Indianapolis is easy to get to geographically. I realize it may not have the glamour of some of the other markets that are being spoken about, but it’s here, it’s ready to go.

“I think economically, given that Liberty is taking a different view on some of their future partnerships, I think there is an opportunity there. Personally I’d like to see it happen.”

J. Douglas Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway President, told a group of reporters on site that no talks had been held with Liberty as of yet, and while the circuit would be open to negotiations, it would have to be financially viable.

“I have not had any talks directly with the folks with Liberty or with Formula 1. We’d certainly entertain a conversation,” Boles said.

“We’d have to figure out the economics. That’s why it wasn’t here after 2007; in order for it to come back here, the economics would have to make sense.

“At some level that conversation, Mark Miles [CEO of Hulman & Co., INDYCAR/IMS parent company] and Zak have a really good relationship, I think we’d ultimately lead it through Mark.

“When we redid the road course between 2013 and 2014, one of the things that was important to us was to make sure our road course remained FIA Grade 1, so if that there ever was a point in time where we had the opportunity to host an F1 race, we wouldn’t have to go through a complete renovation of our road course again.

“There’s two tracks in the U.S. that are that. COTA’s one, and we’re the other. So theoretically they could run here.”