Castroneves leads warmer second Sonoma IndyCar practice

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SONOMA, Calif. – Helio Castroneves was on top in the second 45-minute practice session for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, with a best time of 1:18.6582.

Times were slower than this morning by nearly a second at the temperature sensitive race track. This morning saw temps of 65 degrees ambient and 91 track, while the afternoon had temps of 73 ambient and 116 track, per Firestone.

Castroneves enters this weekend 39 points in arrears of Team Penske teammate Will Power in the second-to-last race of the season.

Ryan Briscoe jumped to second at 1:18.6920 right at the end of the session in a newly liveried No. 8 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, a darker shade of blue.

Morning practice leader Ryan Hunter-Reay was third; Scott Dixon jumped up to fourth at the end of the session and Sebastien Bourdais rounded out the top five.

Hunter-Reay was the only Honda runner in the top six; Josef Newgarden was seventh and hovered around the top five.

Qualifying is live at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.

Here’s your times:

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Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”