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Castroneves tops final practice at Phoenix

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – Helio Castroneves led the final practice session for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix (Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN), after also qualifying on pole for the Verizon P1 Award earlier in the day.

The driver of the No. 3 Rev Group Inc. Team Penske Chevrolet clocked in a best lap of 186.293 mph; speeds and times were obviously slower this session as teams and drivers focused on race runs.

Juan Pablo Montoya and Josef Newgarden were second and third; as in qualifying, Chevrolet held the edge over Honda with the top 10 times and speeds coming from Chevrolet entrants.

Of note, both Carlos Munoz’s and James Hinchcliffe’s crews got their cars back out after accidents earlier in the day.

Munoz’s No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda was out for the start of the session with Hinchcliffe’s No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda out with just over 10 minutes to go in the scheduled 30-minute session.

The 30-minute session was extended an extra five minutes for a track inspection.

Here are times:


Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).