IndyCar: Barber Practice 2 sees Hunter-Reay on top again

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The good news for the Verizon IndyCar Series field in practice two for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama was that it ran relatively smoothly, with only one red flag interruption due to debris at Turn 14.

The bad news was that times didn’t improve much from the morning session at Barber Motorsports Park, owing mainly to higher track temperatures.

Ryan Hunter-Reay went to a 1:08.7836 to lead his second straight session, after also pacing the frequently interrupted first practice earlier Friday. His Practice 1 time was 1:08.8470.

The driver of the No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport, and defending race winner, seeks a bounce back this weekend after his contact with Josef Newgarden at Long Beach two weeks ago.

“The track was good – this is quite a bit hotter than we’re used to here at Barber,” he said. “It takes some getting used to and the track conditions have certainly changed, but we’ve tested here quite a bit – we tested here in the offseason and we definitely can’t get enough of Barber. It’s going to be a little bit hotter (tomorrow) and the track temp is going to go up, so we’ll look at what we did her last year preparing for qualifying. The Andretti Autosport car is great right now, we’re not where we want to be yet, but I expect to see all four of us up front (tomorrow).”

KVSH Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais was second at 1:08.9311 in the No. 11 Hydroxycut Chevrolet, with two-time Barber winner Will Power third at 1:09.0704 in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.

James Hinchcliffe in the No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda for Andretti Autosport was fourth at 1:09.0036 with inaugural Barber winner Helio Castroneves fifth in the No. 3 AAA Team Penske Chevrolet at 1:09.0586.

Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing’s Newgarden fell to sixth in the No. 67 Honda at 1:09.0877, after ending second this morning, and Scott Dixon, a four-time Barber runner-up who didn’t complete a lap in first practice, was seventh at 1:09.1484 in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

Simon Pagenaud, Ryan Briscoe and Carlos Munoz completed the top 10.



Lorenzo looking to Honda, Ducati for help in MotoGP title race

ALCANIZ, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 27:  Jorge Lorenzo of Spain and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP celebrates the victory on the podium at the end of the MotoGP race during the MotoGP of Spain - Race at Motorland Aragon Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Alcaniz, Spain.  (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)
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Jorge Lorenzo hopes that he can get some help from the Honda and Ducati riders in his championship battle with Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi in the final four races of the 2015 MotoGP season.

Lorenzo currently trails Rossi by 14 points at the top of the riders’ championship, and with just four races to go, barring an unlikely run of results, the title will go to a Yamaha rider for the first time since 2012.

The formbook offers little in the way of clues for the Lorenzo/Rossi battle, for although Lorenzo has won more races, Rossi has been more consistent, finishing off the podium just once this season.

Lorenzo had hoped to reel Rossi in last time out at Motorland Aragon, but the Italian rider managed to finish third, minimizing the damage of his teammate’s victory.

Nevertheless, Lorenzo was pleased to bounce back after two disappointing races at Silverstone and Misano, having lost ground on Rossi in the title race.

“I am very happy with this victory because it came after two races that were a bit disappointing and I expected to take more points, but due to a few factors and especially the weather, I failed to achieve the desired result,” Lorenzo said. “The victory in Motorland [Aragon] was crucial.”

Rossi was beaten to second place by Honda’s Dani Pedrosa after a titanic battle in the closing stages of the last race, and Lorenzo hopes that the Spaniard, among others, could aid his cause inadvertently again in the remaining four races.

“[Pedrosa] was very strong and it was useful to recover the points lost earlier and it has given me more chances to recover with four races left until the end,” Lorenzo said.

“But [Marc] Marquez or maybe the two Ducati riders could also stand in front of Valentino and take away some points. It is a real possibility, but very dangerous for us both.”

The next round of the MotoGP season takes place at Motegi, Japan next weekend.

Steiner: Haas F1 Team could not afford rookie mistakes

KANNAPOLIS, NC - SEPTEMBER 29:  (L-R) Gunther Steiner, team principal of Haas F1 Team, Romain Grosjean of France, and Gene Haas, owner of Haas F1 Team, pose for a photo opportunity after Haas F1 Team announced Grosjean as their driver for the upcoming 2016 Formula 1 season on September 29, 2015 in Kannapolis, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Stewart-Haas Racing via Getty Images)
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Günther Steiner has said that Haas Formula 1 Team could not afford to have its drivers making rookie mistakes during its debut season in the sport, reasoning the decision to only sign experienced racers for 2016.

On Tuesday, Haas unveiled Lotus driver Romain Grosjean as its first signing for next season, luring the Frenchman away from Enstone after ten years of association.

The second seat is set to go to either Esteban Gutierrez or Jean-Eric Vergne, who both work as development drivers for Ferrari and both have at least two seasons of racing under their belt.

As team principal, Steiner (pictured left) will work under team owner Gene Haas, and said that both had agreed that a rookie driver for season one would be unwise.

“We looked around a lot to find the right guy because we wanted somebody with experience but still hungry to do something, to go with us this long way,” Steiner explained.

“I started talks with the management of Romain in Barcelona to see if he’s interested and, you know, we spoke to quite a few drivers, and in the end I spoke also with technical people, what they think about Romain, how he develops a car.

“We have got a steep mountain to climb here, new team, all new team members, so we needed somebody who knows what he’s doing. I think in the end we found the right guy because he has so much ‘want to drive’ now, and he’s still aggressive or still wants it.

“He’s not [so] young anymore that he’s inexperienced. We lose time by having accidents or doing rookie mistakes. I think we just picked the best one out there for what we are doing, and we focused on him and got him, and we are very happy and we are looking forward to working with him.”