Mazda Road to Indy 2014 schedules released, will only race with IndyCar

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Andersen Promotions confirmed Thursday its desire to see all three of the Mazda Road to Indy divisions run in front of IndyCar, and only IndyCar, for 2014.

Schedules for Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 were all released and the schedules sync up with the recently released IndyCar schedule.

All Indy Lights races will feature same-day coverage on NBCSN with international rights held by ESPN International. Pro Mazda and USF2000 will also be featured on NBCSN with a minimum of four highlight shows, which will also be broadcast on Motors TV in Europe.

Indy Lights has a 14-race slate with four doubleheader weekends on the four road course races at Barber, Indianapolis, Mid-Ohio and Sonoma. The doubleheaders will feature a 40-minute sprint race on Saturday and a 60-minute feature race Sunday just prior to the IndyCar race.

Barber and Mid-Ohio are holdovers while Indy Lights returns to the IMS road course for the first time since 2007. The series returns to Sonoma for the first time since 2010.

The remaining six races are split three apiece between street courses (St. Petersburg, Long Beach, Toronto) and ovals (Indianapolis, Pocono, Milwaukee). Fontana has been dropped for 2014.

Pro Mazda and USF2000 also will have 14-race schedules. All Pro Mazda road and street races will be doubleheaders (six weekends) and standing starts. Oval races will occur at Lucas Oil Raceway Park in Indianapolis the night before the Indianapolis 500, and at Milwaukee in August.

USF2000’s 14 races will come on just seven weekends. All road and street races will be doubleheaders with the exception of Mid-Ohio, which will be a tripleheader as it was this year.

These two series also have the previously announced Cooper Tires Winterfest Championship to look forward to.

Here’s a breakdown of all dates and schedules:

Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires 2014 Schedule of Events

• 14 races
• Three street circuits, four road courses, three ovals
• Doubleheader rounds at all road courses

 Round   Date   Track   Venue 
 1  March 30  Streets of St. Petersburg  1.8-mile street circuit
 2  April 13  Streets of Long Beach  1.968-mile street circuit
 3/4  April 26/27  Barber Motorsports Park  2.38-mile road course
 5/6  May 9/10  Indianapolis Motor Speedway  2.434-mile road course
 7  May 23  Indianapolis Motor Speedway  2.5-mile oval
 8  July 6  Pocono Raceway  2.5-mile oval
 9  July 20  Streets of Toronto  1.75-mile street circuit
 10/11  August 2/3  Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course  2.258-mile road course
 12  August 17  The Milwaukee Mile  1-mile oval
 13/14  August 23/24  Sonoma Raceway  2.385-mile road course

Series Test Sessions

 December 9/10  Barber Motorsports Park  2.38-mile road course
 January 7/8  Sebring International Raceway  1.7-mile road course
 February 21/22  NOLA Motorsports Park  2.75-mile road course
 February 25/26  Barber Motorsports Park  2.38-mile road course
 May TBA  Indianapolis Motor Speedway  2.5-mile oval
 June 3  Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course  2.258-mile road course

Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires 2014 Schedule of Events

• 14 races
• Two street circuits, four road courses, two ovals
• Doubleheader rounds at all road and street circuits
• Standing starts on all street circuits

 Round   Date  Track  Venue
 1/2  March 29/30  Streets of St. Petersburg  1.8-mile street circuit
 3/4  April 26/27  Barber Motorsports Park  2.38-mile road course
 5/6  May 9/10  Indianapolis Motor Speedway  2.434-mile road course
 7  May 24  Lucas Oil Raceway  0.686-mile oval
 8/9  June 28/29  Streets of Houston  1.634-mile street circuit
 10/11  August 2/3  Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course  2.258-mile road course
 12  August 16  The Milwaukee Mile  1-mile oval
 13/14  August 23/24  Sonoma Raceway  2.385-mile road course

Series Test Sessions

 December 9/10  Barber Motorsports Park  2.38-mile road course
 May 3  Lucas Oil Raceway  0.686-mile oval
 June 4/5  Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course  2.258-mile road course

Cooper Tires Winterfest Championship (four races)

 February 21/22  NOLA Motorsports Park  2.75-mile road course
 February 25/26  Barber Motorsports Park  2.38-mile road course

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda 2014 Schedule of Events

• 14 races
• Two street circuits, four road courses, one oval
• Doubleheader rounds at all road and street circuits with one tripleheader road course event

 Round   Date  Track   Venue
 1/2  March 29/30  Streets of St. Petersburg  1.8-mile street circuit
 3/4  April 26/27  Barber Motorsports Park  2.38-mile road course
 5/6  May 9/10  Indianapolis Motor Speedway  2.434-mile road course
 7  May 24  Lucas Oil Raceway  0.686-mile oval
 8/9  July 19/20  Streets of Toronto  1.75-mile street circuit
 10/11/12  August 2/3  Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course  2.258-mile road course
 13/14  August 23/24  Sonoma Raceway  2.385-mile road course

Series Test Sessions

 December 9/10  Barber Motorsports Park  2.38-mile road course
 May 3  Lucas Oil Raceway  0.686-mile oval
 June 4/5  Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course  2.258-mile road course

Cooper Tires Winterfest Championship (six races)

 February 21/22  NOLA Motorsports Park  2.75-mile road course
 February 25/26  Barber Motorsports Park  2.38-mile road course

Lewis Hamilton takes F1 pole in dramatic Russian GP qualifying

Russian pole Lewis Hamilton
Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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SOCHI, Russia — Lewis Hamilton took a step closer to equaling the Formula One win record Saturday by clinching pole position at the Russian Grand Prix, after narrowly avoiding early elimination when Sebastian Vettel crashed.

Hamilton charged to a track-record time of 1 minute, 31.304 seconds, beating the Red Bull of Max Verstappen by 0.563 for his fifth straight pole position. Hamilton can achieve his 91st career win in the race on Sunday, matching the record held by Michael Schumacher.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, was beaten into third by Verstappen’s fast run at the end of the session and was .652 off Hamilton’s time.

The long run from the grid to the first significant turn means Bottas could yet threaten to overtake Hamilton at the start Sunday using the slipstream from his teammate’s car.

“It’s nice being on pole but here is probably the worst place to be on pole,” Hamilton said.

“This year you’re seeing that our cars are more draggy and there’s more tow this year than we’ve seen in other years. So I generally expect one of (Verstappen and Bottas) to come flying by at some point. I think I’m just going to focus on my race and run the fastest race I can.”

Bottas earned his first win at the 2017 race in Russia after starting third and overtaking the two Ferraris ahead of him at the start.

Verstappen and Bottas both start the race on medium tires, which could give them an edge in terms of pit strategy over Hamilton, who is on soft tires, which wear much faster.

“I’m just going to have to nurse those tires for as far as I can. These guys, if they get by, they’re going to be pulling away,” Hamilton said.

Verstappen said he was delighted to start second.

“I wasn’t expecting that and of course it’s great for us. If we can get a good start tomorrow you never know what can happen,” he said.

Vettel lost control of his car over the kerb on the inside of the 90-degree, right-hand turn four and spun into the wall, before the Ferrari bounced back onto the track. Teammate Charles Leclerc was following closely behind and narrowly missed the wrecked car, driving over its discarded front wing.

“Oh my God, that was very, very close,” Leclerc told his team over the radio. Leclerc qualified 11th and Vettel 15th as Ferrari failed to reach the top-10 shootout with either car for the third time in four races.

Vettel’s crash meant the red flag was waved while Hamilton was trying to set his first valid lap time to make the third session – after his first attempt was earlier ruled out for going off the track.

After the track was cleared and the session restarted, Hamilton had to rush his out-lap to make it over the line in time for another flying lap with just a second to spare.

“It was horrible,” Hamilton said. “Heart in the mouth.”

Hamilton was also asked to report to race stewards over another incident in which he went off the track in the first part of qualifying. No further action was taken. It was found Hamilton didn’t gain an advantage because the lap time wasn’t counted.

Hamilton is the runaway championship leader with a 55-point advantage over second-place Bottas and 80 over Verstappen. If he can earn four more pole positions in the last seven races, he would be the first driver to 100 in F1 history.

Earlier in the third and final practice Saturday morning, Hamilton set the pace with a time of 1 minute, 33.279 seconds that was 0.776 better than his Mercedes teammate Bottas, who had been quickest in the first two sessions.