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Carpenter comes up just short of Indy 500 victory

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During the first half of Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500, Ed Carpenter looked like he might be the man to beat. Leading a race-high 65 laps, most coming in the first half of the race, Carpenter’s No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet appeared to be the class of the field.

He never lost the lead on merit until after a Lap 73 restart, when Tony Kanaan passed him on the outside entering Turn 1, but Carpenter was able to remain in second for the remainder of that stint to stay in the lead group.

However, things took a turn during a sequence of pit stops that began on Lap 91, with Kanaan the first of the leaders to pit, and concluded on Lap 109 – several drivers had gone off strategy and extended the window for pit sequences in that stint.

It was during that stretch that Carpenter lost a position to Power, the Penske driver emerging ahead of him after their stops.

Carpenter never found his way back around Power from there, with Power becoming the dominant driver in the second half of the race.

A late restart with seven laps remaining put Carpenter on the gearbox of Power as they ran fourth and fifth – behind Oriol Servia, Stefan Wilson, and Jack Harvey – but Power got the jump and was able to pass Servia one lap later, while Carpenter was stuck behind them.

And by the time Wilson, Harvey, and Servia all pitted for splashes of fuel, Power was long gone, leaving Carpenter to settle for second.

Carpenter was unsurprisingly gracious in defeat afterward, highlighting that the ECR team did everything they needed to do to give him a chance at the win, but explained that things ultimately just didn’t turn in their favor.

“The team really did a great job all month long, all day long really,” Carpenter asserted. “Pit stops were really good. It was almost like being out front early probably hurt us a little bit just because guys started saving fuel a little earlier. We got behind on the fuel save. Whatever segment Will got by us, (he) went a couple laps further, my out lap we had traffic. One of those exchanges.”

Carpenter also detailed that, as expected, track position proved critical, and that he just couldn’t get the lead back once he lost it.

“Track position was everything we thought it was going to be coming into the day. You heard the drivers talk all week. Just couldn’t quite get (the lead) back from (Power).”

Carpenter’s next race will be in two weeks in the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway.

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Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).