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MRTI: Askew takes critical USF2000 pole

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The Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires kicked off its Friday action from Watkins Glen International early in the morning, with qualifying for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda at 8:00 a.m. ET and second practice for Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires at 8:45 a.m. ET.

Below are quick reports for both sessions.

USF2000

Qualifying for this weekend’s USF2000 season finale saw an all-out duel between title combatants Oliver Askew and Rinus VeeKay.

VeeKay, who notably did not turn a flying lap in second practice on Friday to save a set of tires, was the first to drop the hammer, leading early on with a lap at 1:47.853. However, Askew overtook him in the second half of the session with a 1:47.531, and the two dueled each other from there.

In the end, after they swapped the lead a couple times between them, it was Askew securing the pole, and a critical bonus point in the process, with a quick lap of 1:46.163, which broke the track record by over six seconds. Askew’s time bettered VeeKay’s best lap of 1:46.272 by just over one tenth of a second.

The pole for Askew increases his points lead over VeeKay to 14 ahead of this afternoon’s season finale.

Kory Enders, Andres Gutierrez, and Kaylen Frederick filled out the top five. The session saw a brief red flag after Robert Megennis spun and made contact with the wall exiting Turn 1. Megennis, who is pulling double duty this weekend and running in both USF2000 and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, will start the USF2000 race from 20th.

Qualifying results are below. The final race of the USF2000 season rolls off at 1:15 p.m. ET.

Indy Lights

Aaron Telitz topped Indy Lights Practice on Saturday morning, turning a quick lap of 1:33.237. Colton Herta, Nico Jamin, Shelby Blackstock, and Neil Alberico completed the top five. Champion-elect Kyle Kaiser was ninth at the end of practice.

The session was stopped on two occasions. First, Santiago Urrutia, Zachary Claman DeMelo, and Nicolas Dapero all spun in separate incidents due to cold temperatures, forcing a brief stoppage as they returned to the pits. However, all three were able to return to the track.

The second incident was for Juan Piedrahita, who locked up the brakes entering Turn 8 and hit the outside wall with the nose of the car before sliding into the gravel. Piedrahita’s No. 2 Team Pelfrey entry suffered significant damage to the front wing assembly and left-front suspension, and he was unable to return to the track.

Of note: Carlin’s Garth Rickards did not go out for practice in the morning and will not be participating in Indy Lights competition for the rest of the weekend. Rickards’ No. 11 entry incurred damage during Friday practice after going over the curbing, and the team was unable to repair the car.

 

Lap times are below. Qualifying for tomorrow’s season-ending Indy Lights race begins Saturday afternoon. at 2:15 p.m. ET.

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Valtteri Bottas on Silverstone pole; Nico Hulkenberg a surprising third

F1 Bottas Hamilton Silverstone
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Valtteri Bottas nipped Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in Silverstone qualifying Saturday to maintain the team’s hammerlock on F1 results this season while Nico Hulkenberg was a surprise in third.

Hulkenberg is filling in for Sergio Perez for the second consecutive race while the Racing Point driver recovers from coronavirus.

It’s the best F1 start since 2016 for Hulkenberg, who was left without a full-time ride after the 2019 season. He finished 20th at Silverstone last week when an engine problem on the grid prevented him ftaking the green.

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“The last seven to eight days have been crazy,” Hulkenberg said after qualifying. “This weekend I felt much better prepared. Q3 was just head down, full beans, and give it whatever I had.

“I’m a bit surprised to be standing here, but there’s a big smile on my face.”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified fourth and will be among the field trying to derail the Mercedes duo that has won the first four races of an F1 season delayed because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Feels good,” Bottas said after nipping Hamilton by a few hundredths of a second on his final lap for his 13th career pole position. ” I just love qualifying especially, when it goes well. Proud to drive this car. The race pace is there, so our first job is to get a good start off the line tomorrow and go from there.”

The impressive lap came two days after Bottas, who won the season opener in Austria, announced a one-year contract extension with the team.

Mercedes also is set to begin negotiating a new deal with Hamilton, who has won the past three races in F1 but was disappointed Saturday.

“Valtteri did a great job, but for me, it wasn’t a perfect last lap,” he said. “I don’t think many teams will be doing a one-stop race tomorrow so let’s wait and see how things turn out.”