© GP2 Series

Gasly heads up Prema GP2 front-row lock-out at Monza

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Pierre Gasly kicked off Prema Racing’s first home race weekend in the GP2 Series by heading up a front-row lock-out for the Italian team at Monza on Friday afternoon.

Red Bull junior driver Gasly arrived in Italy leading the GP2 standings by 17 points from teammate Antonio Giovinazzi with three rounds remaining.

Gasly and Giovinazzi entered battle in qualifying at Monza on Saturday, separated by just one-tenth of a second following their initial efforts.

Gasly opened the gap up to three-tenths with a fast lap, but was unable to improve on his final run, opening the door for Giovinazzi.

A slow middle sector proved costly for Giovinazzi as he missed out on a home pole position by just 0.054 seconds, handing P1 and four precious bonus points to Gasly.

Artem Markelov impressed en route to third place for Russian Time ahead of Arthur Pic and Mitch Evans, while Jordan King qualified sixth for Racing Engineering.

Williams youngster Alex Lynn was seventh-fastest ahead of Nabil Jeffri, while Sergey Sirotkin’s title aspirations took another hit as he could only finish ninth. Norman Nato rounded out the top 10.

Kyle Busch happy with first stint: ‘Put me in the car, there’s excitement!’

AP Photo/Terry Renna
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Rolex 24 at Daytona debut of the “KB Show” was cut short by a strategy maneuver but still delivered drama and a positive result.

Kyle Busch got the No. 14 RCF GT3 Lexus back on the lead lap and back in contention for a GTD victory at Daytona International Speedway.

“It was good,” Kyle Busch said with a broad smile after a 42-minute stint. “Just, uh, shit, put me in the car, and there’s excitement around! Drove all my way back to the lead lap and everything.

“Overall, we’ve had a good experience and hell I only got one stint in, so I’m ready for more. Sign me up, coach!”

The two-time Cup champion was expected to drive for at least 90 minutes, but the first full-course caution of the race (with 19 hours and 16 minutes remaining) caused AIM Vasser Sullivan to change up its drive plan. Busch was called to the pits in favor of Parker Chase.

“With all the strategy and the way the wave-bys work here, it’s quite different than what we’re accustomed to (in NASCAR),” said Busch, who likely will drive longer now later in the race. “That wasn’t bad. To get ourselves back on the lead lap and back to a position where we can start scrapping again hopefully is what we needed.

“So I got one stint in, but I’m trying to save myself and (teammate) Jack (Hawksworth) for a little later.”

Busch climbed into the car shortly after 6 p.m. as the last of the No. 14’s four drivers. He complained a few times on his radio about traffic, which he said was his biggest challenge.

“There were a couple of instances we ran down a smaller car, and (it was) just mirror driving in front of us,” he said. “That was pretty bad. We lost probably 2 seconds on that. Overall, I guess that’s road racing.

The yellow flag was exactly what Busch’s team needed after being forced to start from the rear of the field when it missed qualifying because of an engine change. Hawksworth, who started the race, said the car was “quick in the wrong places and slow in the right places” after struggling with handling and speed in the first stint.

“I don’t feel we’re out of it,” Hawksworth said. “It’s a very long race. Still early days. We need to work on having speed for the end of the race. The position right now doesn’t really make any difference. We’ll need to find some performance at the end of the race to fight for the win.”