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100th Indianapolis 500 team preview: Team Penske

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MotorSportsTalk looks through the Verizon IndyCar Series grid ahead of the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. First up, Team Penske.

There is no greater race, no more important race for Team Penske than the Indianapolis 500. And as the team celebrates its 50th anniversary season with the 100th ‘500 a centerpiece of the campaign, nothing less than the team’s 17th Indianapolis victory will suffice.

ENTRIES 

Juan Pablo Montoya-W, No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet
Helio Castroneves-W, No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet
Will Power, No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet
Simon Pagenaud, No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet 

2016 SEASON SO FAR

Heading into May, the team has three wins from four races – thus matching its entire 2015 win total – and Simon Pagenaud is riding the wave of his IndyCar career to this point with back-to-back wins and a 48-point lead in the championship. He’ll be leading the points into the ‘500 regardless of what happens in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, even if he scores minimum points.

Elsewhere Juan Pablo Montoya has been nearly as good with the St. Petersburg win, while Helio Castroneves has been good if not great to this point and Will Power doing a fair job of playing catch up after missing the season opener. 

INDY OUTLOOK

It’s hard to bet against any of the four drivers, particularly now that Pagenaud has a wave of momentum entering the event. And keeping in mind Pagenaud probably had the strongest car of the four last year, he’ll be buoyed by his performance.

Castroneves ticks the highest national story line boxes if he were to finally win his fourth – he’s not gone more than seven years in-between Indy wins (2001, 2002, 2009) – while Montoya looks to further etch his place in history, and Power looks to beat Pagenaud to his first Indy triumph.

RECENT RESULTS 

  • 2015: 1. 2-Montoya (15), 2. 1-Power (2), 7. 3-Castroneves (5), 10. 22-Pagenaud (3)
  • 2014: 2. 3-Castroneves (4), 5. 2-Montoya (10), 8. 12-Power (3)
  • 2013: 6. 3-Castroneves (8), 7. 2-Allmendinger (5), 19. 12-Power (6)
  • 2012: 5. 2-Briscoe (1), 10. 3-Castroneves (6), 28. 12-Power (5)

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).