Tony Kanaan leads IndyCar practice at Iowa

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Tony Kanaan, who jumped 16 spots to finish third last year at Iowa Speedway, led this morning’s IZOD IndyCar Series practice session on the 7/8-mile short oval with a lap at 184.063 miles per hour in the No. 11 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet.

This morning’s session will be the sole practice run for drivers and teams before they undergo single-car qualifying later this afternoon at 4 p.m. ET – which will serve to determine the groups for the three, 50-lap heat races that will set the grid for Sunday’s Iowa Corn Indy 250 (2:30 pm ET, check local listings).

Those heat races will begin tonight at 6:45 p.m. ET and will be streamed on Race Control.

Coming off his first podium of the season last weekend at Milwaukee, Will Power posted the second-quickest practice time with a lap at 183.602 mph for Team Penske. His teammate Helio Castroneves, who was runner-up to winner Ryan Hunter-Reay last weekend, was fourth (182.962 mph) in the session behind third-place man Marco Andretti (183.100), who is seeking to make up the ground he lost in the championship seven days ago.

Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon was fifth-fastest at 182.841 mph, with E.J. Viso, James Hinchcliffe, James Jakes, Ed Carpenter and Simon Pagenaud completing the Top 10.

McLaren unveils 2018 F1 car, the MCL33

Photo: Getty Images
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McLaren F1 Team became the latest to launch their 2018 challenger on Friday, taking the covers off their new MCL33 chassis early on Friday morning.

McLaren endured a difficult 2017 season of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, with their partnership with Honda eventually dissolving after a troublesome power unit saw them plagued by unreliability and low power.

A switch to Renault power units is expected to see them get an uptick in form, and the MCL33 chassis itself is actually an evolution on last year’s MCL32. Still, the team highlighted areas to improve upon, and aims for a return to prominence in 2018.

“The McLaren team was created by a brave pioneer, and has had bravery at its core ever since. Whether it’s been with brave drivers, brave leaders or brave fortune, this team has always fought back. And we definitely view 2018 as the year when McLaren will move closer to the front, fighting teams and drivers as we improve our fortunes,” said Zak Brown, executive director of McLaren Technology Group.

Brown also highlighted the car’s new papaya orange livery, a throwback to some of the most popular color schemes that have adorned McLaren entrants in a variety of disciplines. Brown indicated that this came about from requests of fans who wanted to see such a livery return to the McLaren marque.

“Our return to a papaya orange livery for this year wasn’t simply an emotional decision; it demonstrates that we are listening to our fans, building deeper engagement with them and the Formula 1 community as a whole. We want McLaren to earn respect on and off the track, and this felt like a good starting point. We want to show everyone what makes this team special, whether that’s our fans or our partners – there’s room for more on our journey.”

The team’s racing director Eric Boullier expressed optimism about the team’s potential for 2018, but also acknowledged the season will be sure to see its fair share of challenges.

“I think the whole team feels proud of this car,” he asserted. “The design, engineering and aerodynamic departments have done an incredible job delivering a new car with a new power unit in an extremely short timeframe. We never took the easy route or looked to shortcut a process or a solution; and the result is a car that is neat and well-resolved.

“That said, we are under no illusions that it will be difficult to splinter the hegemony at the front; and that the midfield will be full of well-funded, experienced outfits with plenty to prove. We are humble about the challenge ahead, but feel we’ve prepared well, have a solid package that we can build upon and exploit as the season progresses, and have two excellent drivers who will make the difference in races.”

The MCL33 took to the track on Friday for filming at a test track in Spain, and will be run in anger for the first time when testing begins next week at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.