Jack Hawksworth's first IndyCar lap (RLL Racing Twitter)

Hawksworth tests an IndyCar; Schmidt looks at Lights options

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Sam Schmidt’s Indy Lights team and one of its current drivers are exploring their options for 2014.

As was announced a couple weeks ago, reigning Pro Mazda champion and Schmidt Peterson Indy Lights driver Jack Hawksworth is doing his first IndyCar test today at Sebring International Raceway with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Here’s a tweet from the team, below:

Hawksworth described the step up: “The big thing is for me that the braking is different, in the Lights car you can’t hit the brake nearly as hard as you can hit it in an IndyCar,” he told IndyCar.com. “But the way you actually drive the car in terms of how you went into the corner, how you try to get your turning done in the corner is quite similar.”

If Hawksworth makes the jump to IndyCar next year, either on his own or with the support of a Mazda scholarship for winning the championship (what Tristan Vautier did this year and Josef Newgarden did in  2012), that will free up at least one Indy Lights seat.

According to Trackside Online’s Joe Berkemeier, the team is testing four drivers in Indy Lights: Brazilian Luis Felipe Derani, Colombian Juan Piedrahita and Americans Jimmy Simpson and Spencer Pigot. Derani and Simpson will test two days with Pigot and Piedrahita sharing a third car a day apiece.

IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama final practice report

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Will Power posted the fastest lap in the third practice session for the Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. with a speed of 122.953 mph.

Rookie Robert Wickens (122.552 mph) was second fast, foretelling a continuation of his incredible rookie season.

Scott Dixon (122.237), Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.231) and Alexander Rossi (122.106) rounded out the top five.

The practice was interrupted several times for incidents. 

Ed Jones spun off track in turn five after locking up his brakes with 30 minutes remaining in practice three. He was able to drive back to the pits under his own power.

With 20 minutes still on the clock, Jordan King took a trip into the fence after posting a fastest lap of 121.753 mph. He sustained substantial left side damage to his car and came back to the pits on the hook.

“I’m annoyed really,” King said afterward on the live stream at IndyCar.com. “I slightly locked the inside front, then just stayed off onto the grass and that was it. But I wasn’t really even pushing that hard.”

With two minutes remaining, Charlie Kimball lost power and pulled off the track, bringing an end to the practice session.

Dixon also had an off-road excursion.