IndyCar: Dixon leads day of Grand Prix of Indy road course testing (UPDATED, VIDEO)

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AFTERNOON: Times dipped into the 1:09s into the afternoon, a full two seconds faster than this morning, as the IMS road course rubbered in and gained time for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ test session ahead of the May 10 Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

Scott Dixon posted the day’s fastest lap at 1:09.5969 with teammate Ryan Briscoe and Simon Pagenaud also into the 1:09s, and completing the top three.

“I’ve obviously got a big smile on my face,” said Dixon, not just because of his time in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, but more due to the track layout.

“The track was so much fun today. The thing they captured, it’s a demanding circuit. The cars all seem very close which is going to create some fantastic racing. These big straights, I think Brazil is probably the only other time we’ve had a straight similar length like this.”

Combined times are linked here. All bar Mikhail Aleshin posted times in the second session, and all made substantial improvements from the morning. Aleshin and Graham Rahal reported “engine issues” during the day.

MORNING: The first test session of the day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is in the books for testing on the new IMS road course, ahead of the May 10 Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

It may be a new circuit but it was a familiar name leading the morning session – Verizon Team Penske’s Will Power. His former teammate and now NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing driver Ryan Briscoe was second.

Briscoe and Graham Rahal had the opportunity to test on the track before the race was formally announced last fall.

More to the point, here’s the rest of the morning testing times.

The Callaway Corvette GT3 is coming to America, in PWC

Photo: Callaway Competition USA
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Pirelli World Challenge has been in need of some good news from a car count standpoint early into this offseason, and receives it Monday with confirmation Callaway Competition will bring its GT3-spec homologated Corvette C7 GT3-R Stateside next season.

The withdrawal of the factory Cadillac Racing program after PWC’s season finale in Sonoma in September has opened the door for the factory-blessed Corvette C7 GT3-R to run in North America, because Cadillac’s ATS-V.R has been the lone GT3-spec car under the General Motors awning for the last three seasons, while the Callaway Corvette has raced only internationally.

Reeves Callaway has been on site at the tail end of the PWC season to survey the opportunity and now a deal has been struck for a factory effort to run next year, before the Callaway Corvette program becomes a customer effort in 2019. This follows the same timeline as Acura did with its new NSX GT3 this year to run it as a factory program in 2017 before shifting to customer efforts in 2018.

“Joining the Pirelli World Challenge has been a long term objective for Callaway Competition,” Callaway said in a release. “Now the field is a roll-call of the most capable sports cars from every country. To do well here, you must beat the best in the world. What better way to showcase our iconic American car?

“For 2018, we will run a Callaway factory team to give us the best chance of continuing the championship record the Corvette has achieved in international competition. For 2019, we will not race against our customers, but provide high-quality support to them in the tradition of other manufacturer customer racing support programs.”

“For several years fans have asked when they would see the Callaway Corvette GT3 run in the Pirelli World Challenge,” added Greg Gill, President and CEO of Pirelli World Challenge. “The wait is over and we are very pleased to announce the arrival of the Callaway Corvette GT3 for the 2018 season.”

The Callaway Competition USA Corvette C7 GT3-R will be unveiled and both full season drivers announced at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis on December 7 at the Pirelli World Challenge booth. Following the unveiling event, the car will be on display for the remainder of the trade show. Details of the presentation will be announced in the coming weeks.

Callaway’s confirmation comes amidst the likely drawdown of potentially nine or 10 cars that raced in PWC’s GT and GTA ranks either all season or most of it in 2017, among at least five manufacturers. That’s not to say those losses can’t be recouped elsewhere on the grid, over the next several months before the St. Petersburg season opener in March.

PWC will hold its annual state of the series and competitor meeting to finalize the next year’s plans at the PRI show as well.