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The “jawn” is gone: Tomas Scheckter announces he’s done racing

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Tomas Scheckter turns 36 today and this is the point where we note the South African driver was often the price of admission on his own for his IndyCar career, which lasted from 2002 through 2011.

Scheckter debuted with Eddie Cheever’s team in 2002 and quickly rankled the establishment with his speed, aggression, and take-no-prisoners mentality. He probably should have won that year’s Indianapolis 500 but crashed out in Turn 4.

He then moved to Chip Ganassi Racing for 2003 after Cheever let him go in 2002, after scoring his first win at Michigan. A pair of somewhat fruitless seasons followed, first with Ganassi and then in 2004 with Panther Racing, before Scheckter returned to victory lane at Texas in 2005 – delivering both his and Panther’s final victory in the series.

Two more full-time campaigns with Vision Racing in 2006 and 2007 followed before Scheckter bounced around part-time for the next four years, primarily on ovals, and giving it his all with his high-line style every time he got in the car. If you remember Mona-Vie or REDLINE on an IndyCar, then you remember Scheckter was the one driving it.

You’re probably wondering then, why is this historical piece on Scheckter’s career, which hadn’t really restarted since 2011, being posted today, on Sept. 21, 2016?

It’s because Scheckter – who popularized the word “jawn” the last several years, essentially a four-letter word describing anything and everything without actually meaning something – has officially called time on his racing career.

When a fan asked today whether we’d ever see Scheckter back in a car, his answer was a definitive “no.”

Conor Daly, who never had the opportunity to race against Scheckter in IndyCar but watched him growing up, simply responded, “hero.”

Scheckter was certainly a character in his time in IndyCar and there really hasn’t been someone of his ilk since, especially someone who made restarts that jaw-dropping.

Tony Kanaan and Ryan Hunter-Reay are probably the gold standard for starts/restarts among the current crop of competitors but watching a “T-Scheck” start or restart in his heyday was something to behold.

Anyway, the IndyCar numbers: 118 starts, two wins, 18 top-fives, 44 top-10s and an unlimited amount of “jawn.”

We didn’t think a comeback was really on the cards for the son of 1979 World Champion Jody, but this news confirms it.

Ride that high line, “T-Scheck.” Ride high.

Lewis Hamilton takes F1 pole in dramatic Russian GP qualifying

Russian pole Lewis Hamilton
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SOCHI, Russia — Lewis Hamilton took a step closer to equaling the Formula One win record Saturday by clinching pole position at the Russian Grand Prix, after narrowly avoiding early elimination when Sebastian Vettel crashed.

Hamilton charged to a track-record time of 1 minute, 31.304 seconds, beating the Red Bull of Max Verstappen by 0.563 for his fifth straight pole position. Hamilton can achieve his 91st career win in the race on Sunday, matching the record held by Michael Schumacher.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, was beaten into third by Verstappen’s fast run at the end of the session and was .652 off Hamilton’s time.

The long run from the grid to the first significant turn means Bottas could yet threaten to overtake Hamilton at the start Sunday using the slipstream from his teammate’s car.

“It’s nice being on pole but here is probably the worst place to be on pole,” Hamilton said.

“This year you’re seeing that our cars are more draggy and there’s more tow this year than we’ve seen in other years. So I generally expect one of (Verstappen and Bottas) to come flying by at some point. I think I’m just going to focus on my race and run the fastest race I can.”

Bottas earned his first win at the 2017 race in Russia after starting third and overtaking the two Ferraris ahead of him at the start.

Verstappen and Bottas both start the race on medium tires, which could give them an edge in terms of pit strategy over Hamilton, who is on soft tires, which wear much faster.

“I’m just going to have to nurse those tires for as far as I can. These guys, if they get by, they’re going to be pulling away,” Hamilton said.

Verstappen said he was delighted to start second.

“I wasn’t expecting that and of course it’s great for us. If we can get a good start tomorrow you never know what can happen,” he said.

Vettel lost control of his car over the kerb on the inside of the 90-degree, right-hand turn four and spun into the wall, before the Ferrari bounced back onto the track. Teammate Charles Leclerc was following closely behind and narrowly missed the wrecked car, driving over its discarded front wing.

“Oh my God, that was very, very close,” Leclerc told his team over the radio. Leclerc qualified 11th and Vettel 15th as Ferrari failed to reach the top-10 shootout with either car for the third time in four races.

Vettel’s crash meant the red flag was waved while Hamilton was trying to set his first valid lap time to make the third session – after his first attempt was earlier ruled out for going off the track.

After the track was cleared and the session restarted, Hamilton had to rush his out-lap to make it over the line in time for another flying lap with just a second to spare.

“It was horrible,” Hamilton said. “Heart in the mouth.”

Hamilton was also asked to report to race stewards over another incident in which he went off the track in the first part of qualifying. No further action was taken. It was found Hamilton didn’t gain an advantage because the lap time wasn’t counted.

Hamilton is the runaway championship leader with a 55-point advantage over second-place Bottas and 80 over Verstappen. If he can earn four more pole positions in the last seven races, he would be the first driver to 100 in F1 history.

Earlier in the third and final practice Saturday morning, Hamilton set the pace with a time of 1 minute, 33.279 seconds that was 0.776 better than his Mercedes teammate Bottas, who had been quickest in the first two sessions.