Carpenter leads Opening Day of Indy 500 practice

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The importance of leading the opening day of Indianapolis 500 practice can be debated, but nonetheless, Ed Carpenter came away with bragging rights after topping the charts with a lap of 220.970 miles per hour in the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet.

“I felt like we were going to be strong coming in because we’ve learned a lot since we were here last year and the team’s worked really hard,” Carpenter said.

“You always have confidence when you win races so it was good to finish last year with a win [at Auto Club Speedway]. It did a lot for the team, giving the whole team motivation to keep pushing over the off-season. Hopefully, we can continue having a good month and be there when it counts.”

“…From where we were last May to where we were last September, we learned a whole lot about this new car, so you kind of apply the little we did right last year [at Indy] with a lot of the things that we learned over the course of the rest of last season and the off-season. You just try to come in with what you think will be best, whether that’s what you had here last year or if it’s something new altogether.”

Josef Newgarden was second-quickest in his backup No. 21T Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda at 220.920 miles per hour. After passing his Rookie Orientation Program, Andretti Autosport’s Carlos Munoz managed to climb to P3 with a lap of 220.720 miles per hour. In fourth was Charlie Kimball in his No. 83T (220.633 mph), and Alex Tagliani rounded out the Top 5 speeds in his No. 98 (220.248 mph).

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).