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Munoz “forgot” about Indy disappointment; seeks a Detroit repeat

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DETROIT – Carlos Munoz heads into today’s first of two races in the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans having moved on from last week’s frustration of finishing second in the 100th Indianapolis 500, primed to win a race under more normal circumstances than he did this day last year.

Munoz, the talented 24-year-old Colombian, entered the ranks of Verizon IndyCar Series winners in the first of two waterlogged, caution-infested races on a dynamic strategy after starting 20th. But he said afterwards he wanted to win his second race in a more normal fashion.

With his three Andretti Autosport teammates mired in 15th (Ryan Hunter-Reay), 17th (Alexander Rossi) and 19th (Marco Andretti), Munoz should carry the hopes of the team for the first of two races in things go to plan on Saturday.

Now he wants to forget about Indianapolis and continue his form; he told me before the month of May he was driving the best he ever has, and being the top Andretti Autosport qualifier in now three of the past five races bares that out.

“The next day, I forgot about the second place, whatever,” Munoz said Friday. “A lot of drivers wanted to finish second, that’s for sure, and they were home watching the race.

“Like I said, I think I said to you, I haven’t been driving so good I think this year. I’ve been driving so good, even the results didn’t show a lot in the road courses, but for the package we have, I had or whatever I had in that moment, I think I’ve never been so good driving. So the result doesn’t show it, but for me emotionally, I’ve been driving the best ever in my career right now, this year.”

Munoz felt he extracted the maximum out of his car on Friday, as he reached only the second Firestone Fast Six of his career, the first since Mid-Ohio 2014 held in mixed conditions.

“We tried some stuff for the Fast Six, and it didn’t work, but it’s my first Fast Six with that like normal conditions, so just really happy. I was the best of the team, so I think it’s a good position to start the race. I was here last year on the wet, and I think it’s a good position to start the race. I think we still have work to do. I think I got everything out of the car. I think that was the limit.”

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.”