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MRTI: Colton Herta takes Indy Lights pole at Watkins Glen

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Colton Herta will start on pole for the season finale of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires at Watkins Glen International. Herta’s best lap of 1:32.439 was more than three tenths of a second quicker than second-place Santi Urrutia, whose best lap came in at 1:32.795.

For Herta, this is his seventh pole of 2017 and comes at the end of a year that seen a lot of speed from the 17-year-old, but a string of inconsistent finishes and bad luck hampered his overall championship efforts

“I think it’s just been a lot of me gaining my confidence in the races. We’ve been quick all year. We’ve had a lot of poles this year, but just haven’t quite gotten it done in the races. But, we have a car for the race, we were really quick on old tires, and we were obviously quick on new tires. So, it should be good,” Herta told NBC Sports after qualifying.

The aforementioned Urrutia will flank Herta on the front row. Aaron Telitz, Nico Jamin, and Zachary Claman De Melo completed the top five. Champion-elect Kyle Kaiser, who need only start Sunday morning’s race to clinch the 2017 Indy Lights championship, qualified tenth.

Qualifying results are below. Sunday morning’s race begins at 10:50 a.m.

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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.