Ryan Newman’s new CAT design plays well in Peoria

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Old-time NASCAR fans might remember back in 1969, aide John Ehrlichman said of one of then-President Richard Nixon’s policies, “Don’t worry, it’ll play in Peoria.”

When Richard Childress unveiled the new look of Ryan Newman’s No. 31 Caterpillar-sponsored 2015 Chevrolet SS, the debut Wednesday was held at the CAT Visitors Center in Peoria, Illinois.

And it certainly indeed did play well in Peoria.

Several dozen CAT employees and race fans braved below-freezing temperatures and sharp wind to turn out for the event. It was also the first time that Newman saw the new look on his car.

The best way to describe the new graphics is a refreshed look of the traditional CAT logo, but with more black, white and gold in the overall look.

“I think it’s cool looking,” Newman told WMBD Radio (see video). “It obviously has a lot of black, but there’s a lot of history with black and RCR. But it does represent the Caterpillar colors well.

“This is my first trip to Peoria to see some of these things. But at the same time, seeing the car for the first time in person vs. seeing it on paper is two different things. It is nice to see and we’ll try to do our best to get it into victory lane this year.”

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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.