Big results for Kanaan, Andretti in delayed Firestone Fast Six

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ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. – In a Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone Fast Six, you expect names like Will Power, Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay to be in the group. At St. Petersburg, you’re now starting to expect Takuma Sato – who qualified second last year and made it one spot better with pole this Saturday.

But Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti? Considering neither has been a hugely successful qualifier in recent years, seeing both make it into today’s Fast Six was a minor surprise.

In 2013, Kanaan had two and Andretti just one Fast Six appearances. In each, they qualified fourth. But both qualified decently well at St. Pete, with Andretti seventh last year (he ultimately finished third) and Kanaan 11th (finished fourth).

On Saturday, Kanaan took what has long been Dario Franchitti’s No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing entry, now with Chevrolet power, up to second. He joked about his recent qualifying sessions after Saturday’s outing.

“A lot of people made a lot of comments over the years because we struggled so much in qualifying in street and road courses and nobody was counting on that. I like to be the element of surprise,” said “TK.” “Nobody was talking about us at Indy last year and nobody was talking about this weekend. Although this is not even half of the battle because this is qualifying. Front Row, man it feels pretty good! I used to see 16 or 17 cars in front of me in a circuit like that so it feels pretty good.”

Meanwhile Andretti ended sixth, and second best of the now-Honda-powered Andretti Autosport quartet, for his first Firestone Fast Six appearance on a street circuit since St. Pete in 2010 – when he qualified fourth. He’s qualified seventh in St. Pete each of the last three years prior to 2014.

“We have to consider more than weather, it’s the first race back and with a new engine, we don’t really know as far as fuel mileage and stuff how we’ll do until warm up,” said Andretti. “There’s a lot to sort of see how it plays out, not sure what to expect but hopefully a good day and we can keep the track position. We were able to save a set of reds for the race which will be good.”

Look forward to seeing how two of the series’ best racers do Sunday from improved grid positions.

Michael Schumacher’s son to make F1 practice debut at Nurburgring

F1 Mick Schumacher
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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MARANELLO, Italy — Mick Schumacher, son of the legednary seven-time champion, will have an official Formula One drive during an F1 race weekend for the first time next week at the Nurburgring, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari said Tuesday.

Schumacher gets the practice drive in an Alfa Romeo on Oct. 9 on his home track in Germany as a member of Ferrari’s young driver program, taking over Antonio Giovinazzi’s car for the first session of the weekend.

“I am overjoyed to get this chance in free practice,” Schumacher said in a statement. “I’m going to prepare myself well, so that I can do the best possible job for the team and gain some valuable data for the weekend.”

The 21-year-old Schumacher leads the Formula 2 standings after winning races in Monza and Sochi. He won the European Formula 3 championship in 2018 and tested a Ferrari F1 car in Bahrain in April 2019. He also has done demonstration runs in his father’s old cars, most recently this month ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix in a championship-winning 2004 Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher holds the F1 record with 91 victories, which Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of tying.

Ferrari said two other drivers in its academy program will also get practice drives in Formula One.

Callum Ilott, a British driver who is second to Mick Schumacher in F2, will drive an F1 Haas at the Nurburgring on the same day as Schumacher. Russian driver Robert Shwartzman will drive in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Dec. 11, though Ferrari hasn’t said for which team.

The German round was added to the F1 schedule after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season and will be officially known as the Eifel Grand Prix after a nearby mountain range. The Nurburgring last hosted F1 in 2013.