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Stroll becomes F1’s youngest front-row starter with star Monza display

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Lance Stroll will become the youngest driver in Formula 1 history to start a race from the front row of the grid on Sunday after a stunning display in Italian Grand Prix qualifying at Monza.

Driving an F1 car in extreme wet conditions for the first time, Stroll splashed his way to P4 in the final stage of the session, finishing behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and the Red Bull pair of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.

With Verstappen and Ricciardo falling back due to engine penalties, Stroll rises to second overall, becoming F1’s youngest front-row starter.

Stroll beats the existing record held by Max Verstappen from the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix by 23 days, adding another record to his resume after becoming F1’s youngest ever podium finisher in Baku three months ago.

“It’s a couple of ‘youngest evers’ this season and that feels good!” Stroll told NBCSN after the session.

“The podium at Baku was great. Front row at Monza is great. Let’s just keep it going.

“I just put it together at the end. In the whole session, we were competitive. Knew best grip under braking, Lesmo 1 and 2. I built up throughout session and put it together by Q3.”

The result comes following a difficult start to life in F1 for Stroll, who arrived with limited experience and has scored points in just three races so far this season.

“We know it’s not a secret it’s been difficult for us in the last few events,” Stroll said.

“We’re almost over-pushing the car.Sometimes it’s tricky getting out of Q1!

“We’re under control and can go from the back of the grid to the front of the grid today.”

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

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”