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Newgarden, Penske fastest in first Phoenix test session

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The Verizon IndyCar Series Prix View kicked off on Friday afternoon with the first of four test sessions over the next two days at Phoenix International Raceway. A glimpse at the time sheets yields little surprises, though the three-hour session did have its fair share.

Team Penske and Ed Carpenter Racing were the two quickest teams, with Josef Newgarden leading the way with a fastest lap of 190.129 mph (19.3511 seconds) in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.

In fact, Newgarden was the only driver to average more than 190 mph during the early afternoon session. Speeds were also up from last year’s opening session, during which Helio Castroneves turned the fast lap of 187.850 (19.5858 seconds).

Ed Carpenter was second quickest in a strong outing that saw him near the top of the time sheets from the outset. Will Power was third while JR Hildebrand had an impressive run to fourth on his return to full-time driving duties. Alexander Rossi rounded out the top five in the opening session.

Perhaps the most surprising performances came from the Dale Coyne Racing entries of Sebastien Bourdais and Ed Jones. Both were very quick from the outset, briefly running 1-2 early on, and Bourdais led much of the session before the final minutes, when both drivers were pushed down to eighth (Bourdais) and ninth (Jones). However, it remains an impressive debut for a squad that routinely punched above its weight last season.

The session was stopped three times for cautions, but only the first one resulted from an incident. Conor Daly’s No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet experienced smoke begin spraying from the back of the car in the opening minutes. Daly later reported that the engine was fine and that a small leak caused the issue. He did not return after only turning seven laps, but was confident the issue could be resolved quickly.

Also of note, Chip Ganassi Racing struggled somewhat in their first major outing with Honda engines and aero kits. None of their four drivers ranked in the top ten at the end, with Scott Dixon the highest ranked in 12th. Tony Kanaan (14th), Charlie Kimball (15th), and Max Chilton (17th) followed suit.

“A bunch did new tires at the end. For right now, the engine feels very good. For what we were doing, the lap times were fairly decent,” Dixon said. “It’s hard to tell how turned up they are. We’ll see how it plays out. Our testing program went really well.”

The second session of the day is slated to begin at 6:00 p.m. local time (8:00 p.m. ET). Times from the first session are below:

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Recapping the proper Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel rivalry (VIDEO)

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Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Vettel are the two most decorated drivers currently on the Formula 1 grid, with seven World Championships between them (four for Vettel, and three for Hamilton).

However, their paths have rarely crossed on the track, and only in 2010 did both drivers battle each for a World Championship in the same year. They also battled Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber that year, with Vettel emerging on top to claim his first World Championship.

However, the 2017 season sees Hamilton and Vettel in the two best cars on the grid, and they have gone head-to-head multiple times already this year, with each claiming two victories through the first five races. Currently, Vettel leads Hamilton 104-98 in the world championship, and the two men are developing a strong on-track rivalry.

Monaco Grand Prix coverage continues with FP3 and qualifying on Saturday. Full times are linked here.

 

Take a look behind the scenes of Fernando Alonso’s Indy 500 qualifying runs (VIDEO)

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In Friday’s NASCAR AMERICA Motorsports Special on NBCSN, we take you behind the scenes during F1 superstar Fernando Alonso’s qualifying runs for the Indy 500, including when he was on the pole for a brief period. He’ll eventually start fifth. 

Simulator ride tells what Fernando Alonso can expect in Indianapolis 500 (VIDEO)

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On Friday’s NASCAR AMERICA Motorsports Special on NBCSN, Parker Kligerman and his backseat driver, Kyle Petty, took to the iRacing simulator to make a mock run around Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.

They look at the challenges of IMS, as well as the challenges two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso will face in the first oval track race in his illustrious career. Alonso is among the favorites in the race and will take the green flag from the middle of Row 2 (fifth position).

Check out the above video.  

Legendary announcer Ken Squier gets you ready for Sunday’s big day of racing (VIDEO)

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Sunday is the biggest day of the year in motorsports, starting in the morning with Formula 1’s legendary Monaco Grand Prix.

Then, at Noon ET, it’s the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The final part of the tripleheader of racing is NASCAR’s longest race of the season, the 400-lap, 600-mile Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Newly-named NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018 inductee Ken Squier gives you a great primer for what promises to be a memorable day around the world (see video above).