Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Indy Lights: Ryan Norman outduels Colton Herta for first career win

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It was hardly a surprise that a pair of Andretti Autosport teammates engaged in a duel for the race win in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, but it was slightly different from the usual battle we’ve seen lately.

While Colton Herta, who started on the pole, was expected to be in the fight for the win, teammate Ryan Norman was his surprise counterpart this time – Patricio O’Ward started third and was shuffled back to fifth on the opening lap, and could only get back up to third and was not a factor for the win.

Herta and Norman engaged in a thrilling late-race dog fight that saw Norman routinely try outside passes on Herta at seemingly every turn, with Herta able to hold him off every time.

However, Norman eventually timed his move perfectly and sliced to the inside of Herta entering Turn 3 to take the lead with less than 10 laps remaining.

Herta tried to battle back, but was unable to get back around Norman, and the 20-year from Ohio took his first career Indy Lights win.

“Colton put up a great fight, props to him, that was such a fun race. It’s a huge weight lifted off my shoulders,” said an elated Norman afterward.

“I knew I had to do it with only two weekends left. I’ve had podiums this season, but some of those were given and I wanted to show everyone that I am capable of really racing for wins. But this whole field is amazing: I believe that if there were 15 cars, it would still be these top seven cars. It’s such a cool series to be a part of and I’m glad I’m here.”

O’Ward rounded out the podium in third, with Santi Urrutia, Aaron Telitz, Victor Franzoni, and Dalton Kellett completing the finishing order.

Herta did reduce the points deficit to O’Ward, but only marginally. O’Ward now leads by 25 points entering the final race weekend of the year at Portland International Raceway.

Pro Mazda: VeeKay Inches Closer to Championship With Fifth Win in a Row

Rinus VeeKay took his fifth win in a row on Saturday. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Rinus VeeKay overtook pole sitter Harrison Scott off the start and rocketed away to take a dominating victory in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.

VeeKay led all 55 laps on the way to the victory, his fifth in a row and seventh of the 2018 season.

“I knew the start would be the time to make a move and risked it a little bit going into Turn 1 because I didn’t know how the car was going to be. But the car stayed stable and I got around Harrison in Turns 3 and 4 and held it the rest of the way for a 1-2 for the team,” Veekay said afterward.

“They gave me a great race car, so I’m so grateful. I tried to focus in every corner, on doing the best I could and not take more risks than I needed to because the championship was in the back of my mind. I stayed pretty cool – but in my head, not around me because it was super hot.”

Teammate Robert Megennis came home second to make it a Juncos Racing 1-2, while Harrison Scott rounded out the podium in third. Moises de la Vara and Oliver Askew rounded out the top five.

Parker Thompson, VeeKay’s championship rival, started last after suffering an electrical issue in qualifying and could do no better than sixth at the checkered flag.

As such, VeeKay now leads Thompson by 47 points entering Portland.

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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.