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Daly confirms he’s out of Foyt seat for 2018

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A.J. Foyt Enterprises will have an entirely new driver lineup next season with Conor Daly joining Carlos Munoz on the sidelines going into the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

First reported by RACER.com, Daly also confirmed his exit from the team to NBC Sports Tuesday night, and then on social media Wednesday morning.

“Been in this difficult position before and will get out of it once again. Giving up will never be an option. More moments like this lay ahead,” Daly wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

The 25-year-old American has had a roller coaster career but was beginning to gain a full foothold within IndyCar after a solid first full season in 2016 with Dale Coyne Racing where had one podium and several other top-10 finishes, and then rallied late in 2017 with Foyt in a year where the team changed its full driver lineup, engineering staff and engines and manufacturer going into the season. Daly posted the team’s best finish of the year with fifth at Gateway Motorsports Park, although was 18th in the final standings – same as he was in 2016.

Just Tuesday, Daly and friend (and roommate) Alexander Rossi returned back to social media from apparent filming of CBS travel reality competition series “The Amazing Race,” which hasn’t yet been confirmed by CBS or their teams. It’s understood the team progressed rather far in the series when the 30th season of that show debuts.

Unfortunately for Daly, while Rossi is locked into a multi-year deal with Andretti Autosport, he’s now set to begin his own next race to find one of the remaining seats on the grid, despite hints over the last several weeks he was still in the frame at Foyt. A logical landing spot could be the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing on road and street courses, with Carpenter in that car on ovals.

As for Foyt, Tony Kanaan and engineer Eric Cowdin were announced earlier this month and RACER indicated Indy Lights race winner Matheus Leist was the frontrunner to take over Daly’s seat.

Leist, a Brazilian teenager, won three times in a four-race stretch this summer including the Freedom 100 in Indianapolis. But he struggled with inconsistency throughout his rookie season in North America driving for Carlin; that being said, he told NBC Sports as early as Watkins Glen he was working on assembling an IndyCar budget for 2018.

Beyond Leist, there are other drivers have reached out to the Foyt team to inquire about the second seat.

Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian GP

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
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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.