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Ocon to start third at Monza, sets sights on maiden F1 podium

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Esteban Ocon has set his sights on scoring his first Formula 1 podium in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix after starring in a frenetic qualifying session at Monza, clinching third place on the grid.

Ocon, 20, has been one of the stand-out drivers in F1’s midfield this year, scoring points in all but one race for Force India.

The Mercedes-backed youngster squeezed through to Q3 at the expense of teammate Sergio Perez before producing a fine lap in extreme wet conditions, finishing fifth overall.

Ocon will rise to third on the grid thanks to penalties for Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, meaning he will line up directly behind pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton.

“For sure, it’s amazing. That’s what the team deserves,” Ocon told NBCSN after qualifying.

“They work so hard on every aspect. To get the second row is something amazing. The car was brilliant, I managed to push it to the limits. I want my podium!”

When asked if a podium was possible, Ocon said: “Yes, definitely. We adjusted the car, we’ll work on the car like we did on Friday.

“We have a big opportunity ahead and we have to get it.”

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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