Excitement across the board on Sunday

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This weekend was the first of 2013 that featured all three of the main series we cover here at MotorSportsTalk – Formula One, IndyCar, and NASCAR. And it was every bit as compelling as we could’ve hoped for.

In Formula One, the Malaysian Grand Prix was packed with drama, from Fernando Alonso and Ferrari’s wing gamble going horrifically bad to Sebastian Vettel defying team orders and taking the race for himself – much to the annoyance of his teammate, Mark Webber, whose angry “Multi 21, Seb” comment in post-race instantly became one of the more memorable quotes we’ll see this season. Say what you will about the concept of team orders, but Sepang’s conclusion will only heighten anticipation for the next round at Shanghai (Sun., Apr. 14 at 2:30 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Network).

Then in IndyCar’s season opener at St. Petersburg, we saw the popular James Hinchcliffe (pictured) hold off Helio Castroneves for his first series victory and Simona de Silvestro fight like mad in the final laps to secure her first career podium. While de Silvestro couldn’t quite hold off her rivals and eventually finished sixth, she showed the talent that she’s always possessed but couldn’t completely exploit until now. Give a call to Marco Andretti as well for his podium run, which comes after a year of struggling badly on the road/street circuits, and to Chevrolet for continuing to deliver for its drivers in the engine department.

Last but not least, NASCAR had a wild finish to its day in Southern California when Kyle Busch scooted by a wrecking Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin on the last lap to win at Auto Club Speedway. Then along came Tony Stewart, who proceeded to fight Logano momentarily on pit road for what he saw as a block from “Sliced Bread” on the final restart. Unfortunately, Hamlin’s eventual hit against an inside wall would send him to the hospital, and now he has to deal with a compression fracture on his L1 vertebrae. But while that put a damper on things, it can still be argued that Sunday’s race was the best that NASCAR has put on at the two-mile oval.

All in all, if you’re a race fan, then you were fully served by the excitement across the three series on Sunday.

Sage Karam, Tony Kanaan fastest in Monday’s practice for Indy 500

IndyCar
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In the second-to-last practice session of the week, Sage Karam paced the 33 drivers qualified for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 on Monday.

Karam had a field-best speed of 226.461 mph, followed by Tony Kanan (225.123 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay (224.820), Charlie Kimball (224.582) and Alexander Rossi (224.507).

Sixth through 10th fastest were Will Power (224.445), Helio Castroneves (224.368), Marco Andretti (224.148) and rookie Zachary Claman Demelo (224.91) and Scott Dixon (223.966).

Power and Castroneves ran the most laps of all drivers at 120 and 118, respectively.

Two other Team Penske drivers struggled to get speed out of their cars. Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden was 28th-fastest (221.982 mph) and Simon Pagenaud, who was the slowest (220.902 mph) of the 33 cars on-track.

Pole sitter Ed Carpenter was 14th-fastest with a best speed of 223.573 mph in a 100-lap effort.

Most drivers were in race trim or were testing things for Sunday’s Greatest Spectacle In Racing such as fuel mileage, chassis setup and more.

Rookie Matheus Leist missed most of the session with an apparent electrical problem that kept him to just 19 laps.

There was one incident of note during the 3 ½ hour session: IndyCar rookie Robert Wickens crashed coming out of Turn 2 during the first hour of practice.

Wickens appeared to skim the outside SAFER Barrier, went left and then violently turned hard back into the outside retaining wall.

MORE: Wickens wrecks during Indy 500 practice

The Honda-powered machine for the Canadian driver suffered heavy damage to the right side, particularly the right front tire and the right side of the front end.

There will be no further on-track activity for the Indy cars until Friday’s final practice to fine tune things for Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

We’ll have the full practice speed chart, as well as What Drivers Said, shortly. Please check back soon.

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