Raikkonen surprised with front row start at Monza

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Kimi Raikkonen admitted that he was surprised to have qualified on the front row of the grid for tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix after qualifying on Saturday at Monza.

Raikkonen stormed to second place in Q3 ahead of Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel and championship contender Nico Rosberg, marking his best qualifying result since the 2013 Chinese Grand Prix.

Speaking in the post-qualifying press conference, Raikkonen admitted that Ferrari had surprised itself with its pace for its home grand prix weekend at Monza.

“Yeah I think if we look now, we probably surprised ourselves a little bit,” Raikkonen said.

“Obviously we expected a strong weekend, but we knew that this place wasn’t our strongest probably. In the end, the car turned out to be pretty good in qualifying conditions.”

Raikkonen is now focusing on converting his good qualifying display into a strong result on Sunday, when the Finn will go in search of just his second podium finish of the year.

“We had many good laps and it’s been a while so it’s nice to be here, especially at our home race for us,” Raikkonen said.

“Our best qualifying this year as a team, so we try to keep another good car tomorrow and a good result not just for ourselves, but for all of our fans and Ferrari people who are behind us.”

Raikkonen has struggled to match the pace of teammate Sebastian Vettel thus far in 2015, out-qualifying him on just three occasions in the opening 12 races.

However, with a new contract under his belt, the Finn will be hoping to justify Ferrari’s decision to retain him for 2016 by leading the team’s charge in front of its loyal Tifosi fanbase in the race at Monza.

The Italian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7:30am ET on Sunday.

IMSA’s 50th Anniversary Celebration: Why Sebring is so special to Bobby Rahal

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Bobby Rahal has driven in some of the biggest races in the world, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 Hours and, of course, winning the Indianapolis 500 as a driver in 1986 and in 2004 as a team owner.

But winning the 12 Hours of Sebring two years in a row (1987 and 1988), Rahal feels, is right up there in terms of his greatest accomplishments as a race car driver.

As IMSA celebrates its 50th anniversary, Rahal reflected on what racing at Sebring International Raceway has meant to him:

“To me, Sebring is the ultimate endurance race. Not as long as Daytona or Le Mans, but the demands put on a car and driver at Sebring are highly unusual.

“My father raced at Sebring in the late 60’s. To win that race two years in a row really meant something to me.

“While we’ve won a lot of other races, we’ve won just about everywhere, you name it. But for me personally, winning at Sebring those two years in a row was very special.”

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