Kahne leads final Cup practice for Chicagoland

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While Brian France, Mike Helton and Robin Pemberton talked about the closed-door meeting that took place this afternoon at Chicagoland Speedway, the Sprint Cup contingent was getting in final practice for tomorrow’s GEICO 400 on the 1.5-mile oval in Joliet, Illinois.

Chase contender Kasey Kahne was fastest in the session, turning in a lap at 181.068 miles per hour in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

Kahne also had the fastest 10-lap average in “Happy Hour,” with a speed of 178.5 mph across his first 10 circuits.

Juan Pablo Montoya, who will start Sunday’s race in the second row alongside Kahne, was second-fastest in his No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet with a lap at 181.056 mph.

Three more Chasers – Joey Logano (181.050), Jimmie Johnson (180.741), and Greg Biffle (180.475) – rounded out the Top 5 in the session.

In terms of 10-lap average, Clint Bowyer was second-quickest behind Kahne, followed by Brian Vickers in third, Johnson in fourth, and Brad Keselowski. All five had their best averages in their first 10 laps.

IndyCar star Scott Dixon to test skills on ‘American Ninja Warrior’

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Scott Dixon will be the latest IndyCar driver to enter the realm of reality TV when he auditions in Indianapolis next week for “American Ninja Warrior.”

The four-time IndyCar champion, nicknamed “The Iceman,” thought it sounded fun when he was approached with the idea of trying out. As the competition has drawn near, Dixon is wondering what he got himself into.

“I feel a lot of pressure on this one,” Dixon told The Associated Press before heading to this weekend’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. “When it got to be about a month away, I figured I should start training for it, and it’s pretty hard stuff.”

IndyCar drivers Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden and Tony Kanaan all auditioned for the show, which follows competitors as they tackle a series of obstacle courses in qualifying rounds across the country. None of IndyCar’s contestants advanced out of the first round and neither did NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Dixon’s appearance comes about the same time the Game Show Network has Sebastien Bourdais as a guest host for “Daily Draw” for the entire week leading into the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Most recently, Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly teamed to finish fourth on “The Amazing Race,” and James Hinchcliffe was a runner-up last year on “Dancing With The Stars.” Castroneves is a former “DWTS” winner.

Dixon, the 2008 winner of the Indianapolis 500 who ranks fourth on IndyCar’s all-time wins list, is accustomed to success. But the New Zealander not so sure he’s going to become the next great ninja. Most of his fitness work focuses on endurance training, and preparing for the obstacle course has taken Dixon out of his element.

“It’s not my wheelhouse,” he said. “This is agility kind of stuff and I’m looking forward to the process. I’m not looking forward so much to the failure, because it’s going to happen at some point, so I guess I just have to make the most of it and enjoy the experience.”

Dixon was famously robbed at gunpoint in the drive-thru of a Taco Bell last year hours after he won the pole for the Indy 500. Asked if his ninja training will have him better prepared should that happen again, he did not think so.

“I suppose if I run away it would help,” Dixon said. “But I don’t exactly have a ninja toolkit to get me through that situation.”