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Marco Andretti tops opening day of Indy 500 practice

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INDIANAPOLIS – One Andretti Autosport driver dominated the headlines and another topped the speed charts in the opening day of 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil practice.

Marco Andretti was fastest on the day with a best speed of 226.338 mph at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, driving the No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda.

That speed is down a bit from last year’s first day, because temperatures were up. After starting in the mid-to-high 70 degree range, it’s now risen into the mid-to-high 80 degree bracket.

Tony Kanaan, in the No. 10 NTT Data Honda,posted the fastest no-tow speed of 223.554 mph.

Four of the six Andretti drivers – the four full-season entries – completed their first “mini race” of the month in the final 10 minutes of practice.

The story of the two one-off additions, however, were interesting side notes.

Fernando Alonso paced the Rookie Orientation Program and refresher program in the morning, and then ran another 20 laps in the afternoon in his No. 29 McLaren Honda Andretti entry.

Meanwhile, Jack Harvey’s day was cut short with the first incident of the month in the No. 50 Michael Shank Racing with Andretti Autosport entry, exiting Turn 2.

Graham Rahal also had an issue today with smoke billowing out the back of his No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda in the final hour of practice.

Times and speeds are below. More to follow.

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”