Kyle Kaiser’s Indy 500 bid in doubt after airborne crash in practice

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INDIANAPOLIS — Kyle Kaiser became the fourth driver in three days to slam the wall in Indianapolis 500 practice, nearly flipping his Dallara-Chevrolet after a heavy impact Friday in Turn 3.

Kaiser was checked at the care center and cleared to drive after destroying the front and right side of his No. 32 in the crash, which happened 51 minutes into the Fast Friday practice that began at 11 a.m. ET.

“I’m fine,” Kaiser told Dillon Welch on the NBC Sports Gold broadcast. “I’m very fortunate that the technology and safety within the car has gotten as good as it has today because I felt it. So extremely grateful to be here to talk with you guys now.

“Overall, I felt like I lost it in the middle of the corner. There really wasn’t much I could do. It felt pretty good in the first opening laps. We’ll have to look at the data and see what happened. We’ll have to see what our options are, but obviously, we’ll do everything we can to qualify for this race.”

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The Juncos Racing driver was driving a blank white car after losing its primary sponsor this month.

Kyle Kaiser’s Dallara-Chevrolet goes airborne after hitting the wall along the third turn (AP Photo/Tom Pyle).

Asked by NBCSN’s Kelli Stavast about the prospects of putting Kaiser in a car for qualifying Saturday, team owner Richard Juncos said, “I don’t know at this point. It’s too recent for the situation. We know this can happen. It’s no surprise.”

Stavast later reported that Juncos Racing was moving forward with preparing the backup car amidst increasing sponsor interest for being in the May 26 race.

Friday marked the first practice in which teams were given extra boost of 30 horsepower in preparation for qualifying Saturday and Sunday.

In addition to Kaiser, Felix Rosenqvist and Fernando Alonso crashed Wednesday, and Pato O’Ward hit the wall Thursday.

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

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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.

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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).