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Kyle Kaiser to step up to IndyCar with Juncos Racing

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Kyle Kaiser will make his step up for his initial four-race program into the Verizon IndyCar Series with the team that’s brought him all his success in the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires: Juncos Racing.

The 21-year-old American will race at next year’s Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Grand Prix along with two other races in the 2018 season, as his reward for winning this year’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship and the $1 million Mazda Motorsports Advancement Scholarship that comes with it.

At the moment the plan is just for a partial season as both driver and team are new to IndyCar. Kaiser hasn’t yet tested an IndyCar and Ricardo Juncos’ team made its debut in the 2017 Indianapolis 500.

“I’m very excited to be moving up to the Verizon IndyCar Series with Juncos Racing,” said Kaiser. “Juncos has been a huge part of my recent success in the Mazda Road to Indy. I have the utmost confidence in Ricardo’s (Juncos) program moving forward and I’m very thankful to everyone involved for making this possible, especially Mazda, Cooper Tires and Dan Andersen for their investment into the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system which will allow me to take the final step towards a career in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Now, I’m just anxious to get behind the wheel as soon as possible!”

By winning the 2017 Indy Lights championship, Kaiser was awarded a scholarship valued at $1 million from Mazda to advance to the Verizon IndyCar Series. Kaiser recorded three wins, three poles and five podium finishes throughout the 2017 Indy Lights season.

“Another year of great Indy Lights competition, another great Indy Lights champion,” said Dan Andersen, owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “I have enjoyed watching Kyle over the past few seasons take his natural talent and improve on his skills, then put it all together this year and win the crown. This is what the Mazda Road to Indy is all about and it’s terrific that both Kyle and Juncos Racing are making the jump together. I believe they will open some eyes in 2018 and we will, of course, be cheering them on!”

Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian GP

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas upstaged Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position Saturday for the Formula One Austrian GP.

The Finnish driver edged out the world champion by 0.012 seconds to claim the top spot for the season opener at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. He clenched his fist as he climbed out of his car and shared a hug with Hamilton.

“It’s something special when you push the car to the limit,” said Bottas, who is chasing an eighth career win. “Feels so good. It’s very impressive (from the team).”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third, and Lando Norris gave McLaren a boost by finishing fourth. Verstappen has won the past two years here, including 2019 when he started third behind Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“It’s going to be interesting quite a bit warmer tomorrow and hopefully this will play to our advantage,” Verstappen said. “Today, Mercedes was on a different level, unfortunately. Last year we were also a little bit off in qualifying so I expect we will be a bit better in the race.”

Bottas had the leading time when drivers embarked on their final laps and beat his own mark before sliding off the track into the gravel.

Hamilton was chasing a record-extending 89th career pole. He was ahead but then dropped off slightly as Bottas secured a 12th career pole.

“Great job by Valtteri. It’s a great start to the season,” Hamilton said. “We show year on year that we continue to be the best team. We’re open-minded … constantly learning from each other and pushing the boundaries.”

Ferrari struggled for speed, with Leclerc nearly one second behind in seventh and Sebastian Vettel failing to make it into the third and final part of qualifying, known as Q3. He starts the race from 11th on the grid.

Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season with his future in F1 uncertain.

Earlier, Hamilton posted the fastest time in morning practice. The 35-year-old British driver was also quickest in both sessions on Friday.

Midway through third practice, F1 newcomer Nicholas Latifi misjudged the exit of a turn and spun his Williams car into a protective tire wall.