Harvick, Keselowski fastest in second Cup practice at PIR

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Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski continued to be practically joined at the hip, finishing 1-2 in Saturday morning’s second of three weekend Sprint Cup practices at Phoenix International Raceway.

In Friday’s first practice session, Harvick was fastest and Keselowski was third-fastest.

In qualifying Friday afternoon, Keselowski earned the outside pole, while Harvick was third.

And in Saturday’s second practice, Harvick and Keselowski were the only two drivers to surpass 138 mph around the one-mile track.

Talk about close: Harvick was just .016 of a second faster than Keselowski, the former at 138.403 mph, the latter at 138.387 mph.

As for the other six Chasers, Jeff Gordon was sixth-fastest (137.336 mph), Matt Kenseth was 10th (137.221), current Sprint Cup points leader Joey Logano was 12th (137.028), Sunday’s pole sitter Denny Hamlin was 20th (136.737) and Ryan Newman was 25th (136.364).

Carl Edwards continued to hunt for speed, being the slowest Chaser, clocking in at 29th-fastest of the 41 cars that took to the track. Edwards’ best lap was 135.967 mph.

As for other drivers:

Kurt Busch didn’t let Friday’s news about his alleged involvement in a domestic abuse case affect him behind the wheel, recording the third-fastest speed in Saturday’s practice at 137.762 mph.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fourth-fastest (137.588), followed by Tony Stewart (137.336), Kyle Larson was seventh (137.295), followed by Kyle Busch (137.253), Casey Mears (137.226), Paul Menard was 11th (137.044), Martin Truex Jr. was 13th (137.018), followed by Clint Bowyer (136.877), Kasey Kahne (136.789), AJ Allmendinger (136.752) and Texas winner Jimmie Johnson was 19th-fastest (136.742).

The third and final session – Happy Hour – takes place from 2:30 to 3:20 pm ET/12:30 to 1:20 pm MT.

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Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian GP

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
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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.