Ganassi confirms Briscoe signing for Indy 500

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Although it was rumored by two different reporters last week, official confirmation from either team or driver of Ryan Briscoe racing for Chip Ganassi Racing at the Indianapolis 500 had not happened.

That changed Thursday night, as Ganassi confirmed his former driver to the Associated Press’ Jenna Fryer. Briscoe will be back in a fourth CGR entry, the No. 8 NTT Data Chevrolet. He raced for the team in his rookie season of IndyCar in 2005.

“A guy like that shouldn’t be sitting on the sidelines,” Ganassi told the AP. “He sat on the pole last year at the speedway. He should be in the race.”

The move confirms two intriguing subplots. Briscoe is the first full season driver from 2012 who will be switching from Chevrolet to Honda engines. Ana Beatriz raced with Chevrolet engines in two 2012 races in a joint Andretti Autosport/Conquest Racing entry, and has a Honda with Dale Coyne Racing this year, but has struggled to find a setup in the first two races. The setup information he has on Chevrolet – which locked out eight of the top nine qualifying positions at last year’s Indianapolis 500 – could be invaluable.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Briscoe is now an ex-Penske driver going back to Roger Penske’s long regarded top rival in the paddock. The bragging rights between the two teams cannot be understated. Briscoe is Ganassi’s answer to Penske’s extra car for the 500 and selected races, in Indianapolis rookie AJ Allmendinger.

Ganassi downsized from four cars split in two shops to three and one this year, opting not to replace the departed Graham Rahal.

Power, Newgarden, Dixon fastest in first of 2 IndyCar practices today at Barber Motorsports Park

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Will Power was fastest in Friday’s first of two IndyCar practice sessions at Barber Motorsports Park.

Power covered the 2.3-mile permanent road course in 1:07.5987 minutes at 122.488 mph in the 45-minute practice session.

Even though he spun off the course during his session, Phoenix winner Josef Newgarden still managed to be second-fastest (121.919 mph at 1:07.9141 minutes), followed by Scott Dixon (121.296 mph/1:082627), Max Chilton (121.251 mph/1:08.2882) and Ed Jones (121.215 mph/1:09.5692).

 

Sixth through 10th were Simon Pagenaud (121.208 mph/1:08.3122), Jordan King (121.113 mph/1:083661), Graham Rahal (121.059 mph/1:08.3964), St. Petersburg winner Sebastien Bourdais (121.029 mph/1:08.4131) and rookie Zach Veach (121.014 mph/1:08.4216).

Here’s the full speed chart:

Incidents:

* Early in the session, Long Beach winner Alexander Rossi ran off the track and into the grass, striking a small sign, but was able to get back on-track. However, Rossi was only able to complete 10 laps, relegating him to 20th-fastest in the 23-car field.

* Moments later, it appeared the rear brakes locked up on Newgarden heading into Turn 5, spinning him into the gravel trap. He was able to get going and returned to the pits for service and was back on-track with less than four minutes remaining in the session.

ALSO OF NOTE:

* The second practice session of the day will begin at 3:50 p.m. ET. A third practice will take part Saturday morning at 10:50 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying beginning at 4:05 p.m. ET. The race, to be televised live Sunday on NBCSN, is slated to start at 3:30 p.m. ET.

* However, weather forecast does not look promising for Sunday’s race. As of 1 p.m. ET today, the forecast calls for 100 percent rain throughout the day.

* Dixon has had an incredible record at Barber Motorsports Park, with seven podium finishes in eight starts there. Except for one thing: he has yet to win a race there. But he does have five runner-up and two other third-place showings on the permanent road course.

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