Indy 500: ‘Little Al’ in as driver coach for KV; Cripps added as Lazier’s lead engineer

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KV Racing Technology and Lazier Partners Racing have made some announcements today regarding their respective programs for the Month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Al Unser Jr. will serve as a driver coach this month for the KV camp, which may expand its “500” program to four cars if the reports involving James Davison indeed pan out (the team is currently at three with Sebastien Bourdais, Sebastian Saavedra, and Townsend Bell).

“Obviously, Al brings a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience to the team and will be a huge asset,” said team co-owner and former CART champion Jimmy Vasser. “You don’t win the Indianapolis 500 twice and come from a family that has won it nine times without figuring out a few things that the other guys haven’t.”

“I think everyone knows how I feel about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and to be able to come back with the defending [Indy 500] champions and try and help them repeat means a lot to me,” Unser said. “I am just very thankful for this chance to work with the team’s drivers and hopefully, I can contribute in a meaningful way.”

Meanwhile, the Lazier team has added David Cripps as lead engineer for the No. 91 Chevrolet of 1996 Indy 500 winner Buddy Lazier.

One of the more respected engineers in the IndyCar paddock, Cripps served as engineer for Panther Racing during its run of four consecutive runner-up finishes at the “500” from 2008-2011.

He recently served as a technical director for the U.S. Bobsled team during the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games. With Cripps’ help, the team earned four medals – two bronzes in men’s bobsled, plus the silver and bronze in women’s bobsled.

LPR has also acquired associate sponsorship for the “500” from lawnmower engine manufacturer Briggs & Stratton.

Valtteri Bottas on Silverstone pole; Nico Hulkenberg a surprising third

F1 Bottas Hamilton Silverstone
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Valtteri Bottas nipped Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in Silverstone qualifying Saturday to maintain the team’s hammerlock on F1 results this season while Nico Hulkenberg was a surprise in third.

Hulkenberg is filling in for Sergio Perez for the second consecutive race while the Racing Point driver recovers from coronavirus.

It’s the best F1 start since 2016 for Hulkenberg, who was left without a full-time ride after the 2019 season. He finished 20th at Silverstone last week when an engine problem on the grid prevented him ftaking the green.

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“The last seven to eight days have been crazy,” Hulkenberg said after qualifying. “This weekend I felt much better prepared. Q3 was just head down, full beans, and give it whatever I had.

“I’m a bit surprised to be standing here, but there’s a big smile on my face.”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified fourth and will be among the field trying to derail the Mercedes duo that has won the first four races of an F1 season delayed because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Feels good,” Bottas said after nipping Hamilton by a few hundredths of a second on his final lap for his 13th career pole position. ” I just love qualifying especially, when it goes well. Proud to drive this car. The race pace is there, so our first job is to get a good start off the line tomorrow and go from there.”

The impressive lap came two days after Bottas, who won the season opener in Austria, announced a one-year contract extension with the team.

Mercedes also is set to begin negotiating a new deal with Hamilton, who has won the past three races in F1 but was disappointed Saturday.

“Valtteri did a great job, but for me, it wasn’t a perfect last lap,” he said. “I don’t think many teams will be doing a one-stop race tomorrow so let’s wait and see how things turn out.”