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Power leads Penske 1-2-3 in INDYCAR Grand Prix qualifying

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Will Power enjoyed a clean of sweep of Friday activity for the INDYCAR Grand Prix. The Australian led both practice sessions and ended the day by capturing pole for Saturday’s race, the second time he has captured pole for the INDYCAR Grand Prix. Power was also on pole for the 2015 event, one he went on to win.

What’s more, Power set a track record with a lap of 1:07.704, eclipsing his own mark, and doing so on a set of used alternatire tires. “The car was great on used tires, and I thought on the new tires, I had a bit of understeer. I thought that it would really come in on used tires. In the Firestone Fast Six the car had a fantastic balance and did a really neat lap,” he said of his run to the pole.

Power, who has endured a difficult start to the year, acknowledged that if he and the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske group keep putting themselves near the front of the field, strong results will eventually come. “Really cool to start at the front again, really determined to have a good race. I’ve been knocking on the door every week, and one is going to go our way here soon. You put yourself in that position, it’ll happen. That’s the plan,” he explained.

Power led teammates Helio Castroneves and Josef Newgarden to make it a Team Penske 1-2-3 in qualifying. The returning Juan Pablo Montoya qualified fifth, making it four Penske cars in the top five to complete a dominating Friday for Roger Penske’s outfit. Simon Pagenaud (7th) was the only Penske driver to miss the Firestone Fast Six.

The last time Penske had four cars make the Firestone Fast Six was at last year’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, when Simon Pagenaud led Castroneves, Montoya, and Power to the green flag in a 1-2-3-4 sweep of qualifying. Further, Team Penske has captured pole in each of the five races so far in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, the third consecutive year in which they’ve done so.

Scott Dixon (4th, for Chip Ganassi Racing) and Sebastien Bourdais (6th, for Dale Coyne Racing) were the only non-Penske cars in the top six, with Dixon leading the way for the Honda teams.

Qualifying results are below. Saturday’s INDYCAR Grand Prix rolls off at 3:30 p.m. ET.

 

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Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).