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Hamilton buoyant as late Monza Q3 gamble pays off, delivers record pole

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Lewis Hamilton made no secret of his happiness after a late gamble in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix delivered him a record-breaking 69th Formula 1 pole position at Monza on Saturday.

Hamilton opted to abandon his second-to-last lap in Q3 in order to set himself up for a final flyer when track conditions would theoretically be better, albeit acting as his final shot to beat pace-setter Max Verstappen.

Hamilton delivered a stunning final lap to go 1.1 seconds quicker than Verstappen, securing the 69th pole of his career in style, moving clear of Michael Schumacher to hold the outright record for poles in F1.

“It’s very hard to find the words to explain how I feel, I’m trying to figure it all out. It probably won’t sink in for a long time,” Hamilton said.

“It was an epic day, I feel truly blessed. The Red Bulls really made me work hard for the pole today, which I’m grateful for.

“The weather has obviously been incredibly tricky for us all. What a day to come here in this beautiful country with the English weather and to be massively challenged. It was very difficult to see out there, and very easy to make mistakes – as always in the rain.

“The second to last lap was OK at the beginning, but then I backed out of it, hoping that I’d get one more lap. There was a lot of pressure for that last lap. There could have been a red flag, there could have been a yellow flag. There was a lot of risk, but I gave it everything.

“A big thank you to my team for making it all possible, the guys here, the guys back at the factory for continuing to support me.

“We’ve got a lot of the sponsors here from Mercedes-Benz and Petronas who have been sponsoring and supporting me for a long, long time, so I’m really grateful for that.”

The Italian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.

Carb Day: Tony Kanaan is fastest in final practice for Sunday’s Indy 500

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Tony Kanaan wants to put legendary driver and team owner A.J. Foyt back into Victory Lane at the Indianapolis 500.

Kanaan took a big step toward achieving that goal in Friday’s final practice for Sunday’s 102nd running of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing.

Kanaan was fastest of the 33-driver field, with a best lap around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval at 227.791 mph, more than 2 mph faster than the second-fastest driver, Kanaan’s former teammate, Scott Dixon (225.684 mph).

Foyt won a record-tying four Indy 500’s as a driver. It’s been nearly 20 years since he also won as a team owner in 1999 with Kenny Brack behind the wheel.

Marco Andretti was third-fastest (225.200 mph), followed by Sebastien Bourdais (224.815), Charlie Kimball (224.712), 2017 Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato (224.083), Will Power (223.942), Danica Patrick (223.653), Spencer Pigot (223.584) and Ed Jones (223.556).

Other notable driver speeds included:

* Pole sitter Ed Carpenter was 14th fastest (223.219 mph).

* Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden was 15th (223.186 mph).

* Helio Castroneves, hoping to earn a record-tying fourth 500 win, was 17th (222.913 mph).

* Graham Rahal was 21st (222.526).

* Former 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay was 26th (221.916 mph), followed by rookie Robert Wickens (221.821 mph), carrying the mantle for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with James Hinchcliffe having failed to qualify for the race.

* The biggest surprise was 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi, who was 32nd fastest (221.374 mph).

We’ll have the full speed grid, as well as full driver quotes, shortly. Please check back soon.

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