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Bourdais, KVSH capture Detroit race on on strategy gamble

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DETROIT – Sebastien Bourdais and KVSH Racing have secured their second straight win in the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans, having won the second race of the doubleheader weekend last year and now doing so in the first race of the weekend on Saturday.

Although Team Penske dominated the majority of the 70-lap race, they were actually caught out today on another strategy gamble.

Entering the final 26 laps of the race, six cars, Juan Pablo Montoya, Graham Rahal, Scott Dixon, Bourdais and the Dale Coyne Racing twins of Conor Daly and Gabby Chaves went off sequence to not pit and leapfrog the leaders, with Will Power leading those who stopped. In Bourdais’ case, an earlier call from strategist and KVSH Racing team co-owner Jimmy Vasser to get him off sequence would ultimately pay dividends later on.

With the race then running under green flag conditions, that allowed those first six to move ahead, stretch their margins and secure most of the top five positions.

Daly was last to pit after leading his third race of the season but came out just behind Bourdais, after taking fuel only.

Bourdais then emerged ahead of him in the No. 11 Team Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet and stretched the lead to a few seconds. But in traffic, Bourdais lost a bit of time which allowed Daly to catch up and get within a second in the No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda.

The Frenchman held on though and Daly, while close, was unable to get past and ended 2.0401 seconds behind. It’s Bourdais’ 35th win of his career, tying him with Bobby Unser for sixth on the all-time win list, one ahead of Al Unser Jr.

Montoya completed the podium in third, his first podium since winning the St. Petersburg season opener.

Rahal was fourth with Helio Castroneves in fifth, and Carlos Munoz in sixth.

Simon Pagenaud ran out of fuel on the last lap and fell to 13th.

Still, the Frenchman unofficially leads the points heading into Sunday’s race with 313 points, to Castroneves at 254, Scott Dixon on 247, Munoz and Josef Newgarden on 227. Montoya and Indianapolis 500 champion Alexander Rossi are tied for sixth on 223 – Rossi ended 10th – with James Hinchcliffe on 217, Tony Kanaan on 214 and Charlie Kimball on 213.

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Valtteri Bottas on Silverstone pole; Nico Hulkenberg a surprising third

F1 Bottas Hamilton Silverstone
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Valtteri Bottas nipped Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in Silverstone qualifying Saturday to maintain the team’s hammerlock on F1 results this season while Nico Hulkenberg was a surprise in third.

Hulkenberg is filling in for Sergio Perez for the second consecutive race while the Racing Point driver recovers from coronavirus.

It’s the best F1 start since 2016 for Hulkenberg, who was left without a full-time ride after the 2019 season. He finished 20th at Silverstone last week when an engine problem on the grid prevented him ftaking the green.

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“The last seven to eight days have been crazy,” Hulkenberg said after qualifying. “This weekend I felt much better prepared. Q3 was just head down, full beans, and give it whatever I had.

“I’m a bit surprised to be standing here, but there’s a big smile on my face.”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified fourth and will be among the field trying to derail the Mercedes duo that has won the first four races of an F1 season delayed because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Feels good,” Bottas said after nipping Hamilton by a few hundredths of a second on his final lap for his 13th career pole position. ” I just love qualifying especially, when it goes well. Proud to drive this car. The race pace is there, so our first job is to get a good start off the line tomorrow and go from there.”

The impressive lap came two days after Bottas, who won the season opener in Austria, announced a one-year contract extension with the team.

Mercedes also is set to begin negotiating a new deal with Hamilton, who has won the past three races in F1 but was disappointed Saturday.

“Valtteri did a great job, but for me, it wasn’t a perfect last lap,” he said. “I don’t think many teams will be doing a one-stop race tomorrow so let’s wait and see how things turn out.”