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Slight contact interrupts Harvey, Shank’s first day at Indy

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INDIANAPOLIS – Rookie Jack Harvey’s first day at the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, in the No. 50 Michael Shank Racing with Andretti Autosport Honda, has not been an easy one.

The past Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series runner-up and 2015 Freedom 100 race winner has completed the first of three phases of his Rookie Orientation Program but is questionable to return to the track for the final hour of practice.

The ROP requires drivers to complete 10 laps at 205-210 mph, then 15 from 210-215 mph, then 15 at 215 plus. Harvey did 15 laps during the ROP two-hour session and 14 laps this afternoon, and thus far has a best speed of 214.473 mph. He fought through clutch issues this morning, but those were resolved.

Harvey was on the warmup lane coming out of the pit lane and the car appeared to go straight into the Turn 2 wall, with reportedly a break with the steering column that caused an odd-looking incident to the car, and damaged the right front tire and upright area.

“It’s been a pretty challenging day for what was meant to be an easy process,” Harvey said. “We had some issues this morning, but we had managed to work through them. To have that happen, and I don’t know what did happen apart from I went to turn in and it went straight.

“I was coming out of the pits. I wasn’t even going fast. I was probably not even going 100 mph. So bizarre. We had just done a long run and had pitted because there was a yellow flag and then had that – random. Hopefully it’s the last time we come to the medical center.”

The Shank crew was hard at work diagnosing the problem and then working to repair the car. Shank’s crew, that is on the Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, comprises most of this crew in tandem with Andretti Autosport.

If there’s a positive to take from this, Harvey managed to largely hang on without causing significant damage.

The Shank crew is renowned for its tireless work ethic through adverse situations. The line “Welcome to Indianapolis,” now proves appropriate for both driver and team’s first day here as a collective unit.

Max Verstappen shows speed in Austria; Lewis Hamilton lacking pace

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen posted the fastest time Friday, and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton lacked pace in the second practice session for the Styrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen was 0.043 seconds quicker than Valtteri Bottas – Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes – and 0.217 ahead of Racing Point driver Sergio Perez.

“The car already feels better than last week, the balance is a lot nicer and we have made a good step,” said Verstappen, who did not finish last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian GP after starting from second.

“It is too early to say how we are looking against Mercedes, but we are quite happy. We have tried a few different directions to understand the car a bit more and we are heading the right way.”

Hamilton was only sixth fastest, about 0.7 seconds slower than Verstappen. Hamilton spent a chunk of time in the garage while his team worked on his car.

“It was quite far off, so there’s a lot of work to do in the background to figure it out,” he said. “Others out there are quick and Valtteri’s obviously got good pace.”

Despite adding a new front wing to its car, struggling Ferrari had a dismal afternoon.

Charles Leclerc was only ninth quickest and 1 second slower than Verstappen, while teammate Sebastian Vettel lagged about 2 seconds behind Verstappen in 16th.

Daniel Ricciardo lost control of his Renault car early into the second session, swerving left off the track and thudding backward into a protective tire wall. He climbed out unharmed, other than a slight limp, but the left rear tire was mangled and the car was lifted off the track by a crane.

Alexander Albon spun twice, the Red Bull driver’s second spin taking him right off the track and into gravel.

Earlier, Perez was fastest in the first practice ahead of Verstappen and Bottas, with Hamilton fourth quickest and Vettel only 10th in sunny conditions.

That session was briefly interrupted when Nicholas Latifi’s Williams car pulled over to the side with a gearbox issue.

The incident brought out yellow flags, forcing drivers to slow down. But McLaren driver Lando Norris overtook Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and got a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

Norris, 20, finished third at the Austrian GP last weekend, becoming the youngest British driver in F1 history to get on the podium and third youngest in F1.

The upcoming race is changing names from last week but is at the same track. It is surrounded by the Styrian mountains.

A third and final practice will be held on Saturday morning before qualifying in the afternoon, with heavy rain and storms in the forecast.

If third practice and qualifying are washed out, drivers take their grid positions from where they placed in second practice.

“It would definitely suck if we didn’t get to qualify,” said Hamilton, who started fifth and finished fourth last weekend. “It would make it challenging.”

However, qualifying also could be moved to Sunday morning.

“I don’t expect to be on pole position with this (practice) lap,” Verstappen said.