Despite practice crash, Juncos Racing still intends to make Indy 500 qualifying

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Perhaps no team has had a more stressful month of May at the Indianapolis 500 than Juncos Racing.

After losing their sponsorship prior to the start of Indy 500 practice, the team suffered another blow Friday morning, when the team’s primary car was destroyed after Kyle Kaiser made heavy contact with the turn 3 wall.

Such a massive crash would be a setback for any team on the Friday before Indy 500 qualifying, but for a small, part-time team like Juncos, accidents like what happened on Friday morning can eliminate any chances of making the field.

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However, Juncos Racing is refusing to give up. Team owner Ricardo Juncos stated that the team “will not stop working until we get [the] #32 back on track”.

“As everyone knows this has been a very intense month for our NTT IndyCar Series program,” Juncos said in a press release issued by the team.

“Despite off track set backs, that has not stopped this team from going out and performing during practice this week. We have been up to the Top-5 in no tow speeds and have consistently improved our times each day. Now we are faced with the challenge of getting our back-up car on track and set for qualifying tomorrow, but I am completely confident in this amazing group we have here at Juncos Racing to make it happen.”

Juncos may have a long night of work ahead of them, but in the spirit of good sportsmanship, fellow competitors have lent parts and tools to the team in attempt to help them meet their qualifying deadline.

“We want to thank all of the teams who are willing to help out with parts, Chevrolet, and the fans who have stopped by to express their well wishes. We will be working hard all day and night,” Juncos said.

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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.