IndyCar Barber starting lineup: Rinus VeeKay on the pole position for second time in career

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Rinus VeeKay will lead the NTT IndyCar Series starting lineup to the green flag Sunday in the Honda Indy Gand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.

After his second career pole position, the Ed Carpenter Racing driver is seeking his second career victory.

“Confidence is high and this is a track where passing is not happening too much,” VeeKay, 21 said after turning a lap of 1 minute, 6.2507 seconds. “From here, we can have a great race and fight for a win, definitely.”

TIRE DESIGNATIONS: The starting lineup with compound choices

Pato O’Ward qualified second, locking out the front row for Chevrolet. The manufacturer has won the first three races of the season with Team Penske drivers Scott McLaughlin (who qualified fourth) and Josef Newgarden, who just missed the Fast Six final round.

Newgarden has a series-high three victories at Barber and will earn a $1 million bonus if he can notch his fourth victory at the track Sunday.

Rain is in the forecast for Sunday’s race, which could be the first in inclement weather since IndyCar added the aeroscreen cockpit safety device two years ago.

“I think everybody’s rain tires on the truck are probably like two years old, which aren’t ideal,” O’Ward said. “Hopefully, it rains now so we can get some fresher ones for the race. I think it would do us well if we all had a chance to see what it was like in warmup. Not in terms of, like, by yourself, but I think it changes a lot whenever there’s 26 cars going around.

HOW TO WATCH BARBERAll the details for Sunday’s race at NBC

“I think there’s a big difference between you being by yourself or being out there, just getting a feeling of what the spray could be.”

Here’s the IndyCar starting lineup for Sunday’s Honda IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama on the 17-turn, 2.3-mile street course (qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine, speed):


ROW 1

1. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 01:06.2507 (124.980 mph)
2. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 01:06.4003 (124.698)

ROW 2

3. (10) Alex Palou, Honda, 01:06.4415 (124.621)
4. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 01:06.4967 (124.517)

ROW 3

5. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 01:06.5549 (124.409)
6. (7) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 01:06.6410 (124.248)

ROW 4

7. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:06.3348 (124.821)
8. (28) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 01:06.3820 (124.733)

ROW 5

9. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:06.6339 (124.261)
10. (26) Colton Herta, Honda, 01:06.7295 (124.083)

ROW 6

11. (77) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 01:07.2000 (123.214)
12. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 01:07.3561 (122.929)

ROW 7

13. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 01:06.5142 (124.485)
14. (30) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 01:06.7462 (124.052)

ROW 8

15. (45) Jack Harvey, Honda, 01:06.6511 (124.229)
16. (06) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 01:06.8138 (123.926)

ROW 9

17. (51) Takuma Sato, Honda, 01:06.7541 (124.037)
18. (18) David Malukas, Honda, 01:06.8898 (123.786)

ROW 10

19. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:06.7775 (123.994)
20. (29) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 01:07.0242 (123.537)

ROW 11

21. (14) Kyle Kirkwood, Chevrolet, 01:06.8213 (123.913)
22. (20) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 01:07.0350 (123.518)

ROW 12

23. (4) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 01:07.6869 (122.328)
24. (60) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 01:07.1052 (123.388)

ROW 13

25. (11) Tatiana Calderon, Chevrolet, 01:07.9248 (121.900)
26. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Honda, 01:09.0075 (119.987)

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.