Keselowski to the garage as multi-car pileup leads to brief red flag at Martinsville

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An apparent mechanical issue for Brad Keselowski led to a multi-car crash that brought out the red flag with 64 laps to go in the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

Keselowski, who made the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup after winning last week at Talladega, slowed down coming off Turn 4 and pulled to the outside of the front-stretch.

But Casey Mears then ran into the back of him, while Danica Patrick clipped Mears and took right-side damage. Martin Truex Jr. and Kasey Kahne then both hit Mears, with Carl Edwards also getting involved in the melee.

Kahne has now been listed as out of the race due to the damage sustained on his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, while Keselowski has since been taken to the garage. Edwards is in position to take the free pass when the race goes back to green.

“I didn’t really see him slowing down,” Kahne told ESPN after he was released from the infield care center. “My spotter saw it last second, and as soon as he said it, I hit the brakes. But by then, it was way too late. I was just looking at the 78 [Truex] and he started slowing up and I was already into him. It was a pretty good hit.”

The race has since resumed under the yellow caution flag with Clint Bowyer leading Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, and Tony Stewart.

Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian GP

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas upstaged Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position Saturday for the Formula One Austrian GP.

The Finnish driver edged out the world champion by 0.012 seconds to claim the top spot for the season opener at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. He clenched his fist as he climbed out of his car and shared a hug with Hamilton.

“It’s something special when you push the car to the limit,” said Bottas, who is chasing an eighth career win. “Feels so good. It’s very impressive (from the team).”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third, and Lando Norris gave McLaren a boost by finishing fourth. Verstappen has won the past two years here, including 2019 when he started third behind Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“It’s going to be interesting quite a bit warmer tomorrow and hopefully this will play to our advantage,” Verstappen said. “Today, Mercedes was on a different level, unfortunately. Last year we were also a little bit off in qualifying so I expect we will be a bit better in the race.”

Bottas had the leading time when drivers embarked on their final laps and beat his own mark before sliding off the track into the gravel.

Hamilton was chasing a record-extending 89th career pole. He was ahead but then dropped off slightly as Bottas secured a 12th career pole.

“Great job by Valtteri. It’s a great start to the season,” Hamilton said. “We show year on year that we continue to be the best team. We’re open-minded … constantly learning from each other and pushing the boundaries.”

Ferrari struggled for speed, with Leclerc nearly one second behind in seventh and Sebastian Vettel failing to make it into the third and final part of qualifying, known as Q3. He starts the race from 11th on the grid.

Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season with his future in F1 uncertain.

Earlier, Hamilton posted the fastest time in morning practice. The 35-year-old British driver was also quickest in both sessions on Friday.

Midway through third practice, F1 newcomer Nicholas Latifi misjudged the exit of a turn and spun his Williams car into a protective tire wall.