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Ricciardo: Spain qualifying result proves strength of RB12

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Daniel Ricciardo believes that his charge to third place in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix on Saturday proves that Red Bull has one of the strongest chassis on the grid.

Red Bull has struggled to battle with Mercedes and Ferrari so far this season, but managed to split the manufacturers on Saturday afternoon.

Ricciardo led Red Bull’s charge in third place, while Max Verstappen will start his first race for the team from fourth after an impressive display in Q3.

Speaking after qualifying, Ricciardo set his sights on his first podium finish of the season before saying that the result proved the strength of the RB12 car.

“Firstly I’m really happy to be back in the top three on Saturday and will try and be back here tomorrow,” Ricciardo said.

“I’m happy for both of us to be in front of the Ferraris, we are both on the second row, which is pretty awesome.

“It took a bit of time to come together, but in Q3 I knew I had one lap and knew I had the pace and where I could do it; it was about putting it all together – up until then I hadn’t, but Q3 is what counts and I did it, so I’m really happy.

“I think this is really the first track of the year that we’ve put on the majority of the downforce on the car, so our strengths are coming back.

“It shows that we have a car underneath us, so it’ll be interesting on twisty circuits.”

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

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.