Massa hoping to leave Ferrari on a high

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Felipe Massa is keen on leaving Ferrari in the best possible fashion after it was confirmed last week that the Brazilian driver would not be racing for the team in 2014.

Massa joined the team in 2003 as a test driver before eventually stepping up to become Michael Schumacher’s teammate in 2006. During his eight seasons with the team, he has won eleven grands prix and came close to winning the world championship in 2008. Having enjoyed such success with the team, he is keen on leaving in the best possible fashion.

“I think the expectation is always to try to do the best in these last seven races,” Massa explained. “I’ve had a fantastic career together with Ferrari, for a long time. It’s a large part of my story.

“The most years of my career are with Ferrari: eight years as an official driver, but also a few years as a young driver. I lived near Ferrari in 2003. I went there every day for the team and for the drivers, so I know everyone who is working there. I have a lot of friends inside the team, so I want to finish in the best way possible in these seven races, and try the best we can to have the best results.”

Massa suffered a huge accident at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, forcing him to miss the remainder of that season. The fact that he was able to return to the wheel of the car for the 2010 season was staggering, yet his on-track performances failed to match those of teammate Fernando Alonso. Although he has helped Alonso’s bid to become world champion with Ferrari, his lack of pace has seen the Italian marque fail to challenge for the constructors’ since 2008.

Kimi Raikkonen will take Massa’s place at the team in 2014.

Here’s who were picking to win the Indy 500 — who are YOU picking?

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Several members of the NBC Sports motorsports staff have made their predictions on who will win Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Of the six voters, two are going with 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden, while two others are going with Helio Castroneves to win a fourth 500, which would tie him with A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.

Here’s our picks. Who are YOU picking?

Leigh Diffey: Helio Castroneves — He drives the place better than anyone else. For me (for what its worth) he deserves a fourth 500 ring for the frustration he went through never getting the IndyCar title!

Townsend Bell: Josef Newgarden

Nate Ryan: Simon Pagenaud — All of his 2018 misfortune on the track has disappeared in May, and it culminates in the biggest victory of his career.

Jerry Bonkowski: Helio Castroneves – There’s no pressure as he pursues his fourth Indy 500 win. All Helio has to do, as late NFL owner Al Davis would say, is “Just win, baby!” (But if Helio falls short, watch for Marco Andretti)

Kyle Lavigne: Josef Newgarden — I think he has everything he needs to get it done this year.

Dan Beaver: Robert Wickens – Has driven like anything except a rookie and his second-place finish at Phoenix proves he’s just as good on an oval as the road courses.

Follow: Jerry Bonkowski