(Michael L. Levitt LAT Photo USA)

Matt Brabham standing by and ready to go for IndyCar ride

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Have seat and helmet, will travel.

That’s become Matt Brabham’s unofficial motto as he continues pursuing a full-time ride in the Verizon IndyCar Series for 2017 – if not a fill-in role still this season.

Brabham may not have a ride but that’s not keeping him from going to races. For example, he’ll be at this weekend’s Kohler Grand Prix at Road America in Wisconsin.

Brabham’s custom made IndyCar seat is being stored by KV Racing Technology in one of its transporters that travel to each race, so that Brabham will have quick access if he’s called upon to replace another driver at the last minute.

“KV Racing has been kind enough to make some space in their truck for my seat and I am ready to go if anything eventuates,” Brabham said in a media release. “I just have to make sure I am on the ground and put myself in a position where I can continue to educate myself on every aspect of the business.”

He’s also bringing his helmet and firesuit, as he’ll be driving the Honda two-seater Indy car at the track this weekend, as well.

Brabham has been riding a string of good luck of late. After finishing 16th in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis and 22nd in the Indianapolis 500, Brabham has racked up three straight wins.

Admittedly, they haven’t been on the IndyCar circuit, but a win is a win if you’re a race car driver.

First came back-to-back wins in the Stadium Super Trucks Series three weeks ago at Belle Isle in a fill-in role for series founder Robby Gordon.

Then this past weekend, back at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Brabham picked up a class win co-driving an older Indy Lights car with Lee Brahin in the SVRA Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational.

Not only did the younger Brabham celebrate in Victory Circle and drank from a ceremonial bottle of milk, his father Geoff was also a winner in a different class, driving a Brabham BT35.

There has already been some interest from potential teams for Brabham’s driving talent. PIRTEK Team Murray owner Brett “Crusher” Murray had a number of meetings in Detroit about Brabham during the Belle Isle weekend and he has additional meetings this week in the United Kingdom.

“Matt’s faultless performance … has created the opportunity to open discussions with several parties and we look forward to continuing those in coming weeks as we evaluate what is available,” Murray said. “I could not have been happier with Matt’s efforts during the last six months and can confidently say that he is one of the best talents I have had the pleasure of working with in 30 years in the business.”

Brabham appreciates Murray’s efforts and is hoping the ongoing conversations eventually bear fruit.

“It is nice that people are keen to sit down and discuss the future with us and I am sure that would not be the case if we had not created something positive in the month of May,” he said.

“There are just so many elements that need to come together, but hard work is not something that myself, “Crusher” or our team have ever been scared of. I think we proved that last month, but that is just the start.

“We have just got to be patient, respectful and don’t lose focus on our end goal, which is a long-term and successful IndyCar career.”

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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.”