Photo: IndyCar

Dixon, Power end 1-2 in St. Petersburg second practice

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Scott Dixon and Will Power ended first and second in the second 45-minute practice for this weekend’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, season opener for the Verizon IndyCar Series 2017 campaign.

Dixon ensured Hondas had the top times in both sessions, with Marco Andretti having ended first this morning.

“The whole offseason has been so busy off the track for people at Ganassi, with a lot of work and trying to get caught up. It’s nice to have a refresh,” Dixon told IndyCar Radio after the session.

“Friday doesn’t mean anything other than mileage. We’ll hope to work with the changes we made today and make it better for tomorrow.”

Dixon’s best time was a 1:02.5591 in his new blue No. 9 GE LED Lighting Honda, with Power second and top Chevrolet at 1:02.8416 in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. Power, who had a slight incident in the morning, returned from that in that first session and ran fine today in this one.

Ganassi teammates Tony Kanaan and Charlie Kimball were third and fourth with Sebastien Bourdais completing the top five in the session.

The practice session was the first since the introduction of Firestone’s red alternate sidewall compounds that teams could run one set of reds in the second practice session. As such, most fast times in the session were set on the reds, but not Dixon’s. And that time on blacks which was more than a second up on Andretti’s best time of 1:03.7559 this morning.

Another incident occurred in a rather weird spot on course, causing the only red flag of this practice. Takuma Sato ran off going into the Turn 13/14 hairpin but while his front tires locked up, his rear ones didn’t. The driver of the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda went hard into the concrete barrier, having just missed the tire barrier at corner entry by a fraction. He was OK but the Andretti Autosport team will have a bit of work ahead of them to repair the chassis for Saturday.

Times are below. Third practice runs at 10:50 a.m. ET and local time on Saturday morning.

Hamilton, Red Bull teammates both go to NASA before USGP

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool
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One of the more intriguing United States Grand Prix adventures occurred on Wednesday, as both Lewis Hamilton and the pair of Red Bull Racing teammates, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, all went to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston – in separate sessions – before heading onto Austin.

Hamilton posted on his Instagram story on Wednesday that he’d “quit his day job in a second” to work at NASA and become an astronaut, and the unbridled enthusiasm spoke to the three-time Formula 1 World Champion’s love of different life aspects entirely outside of racing.

“(I) had an incredible day yesterday, having a bit of a comedown today,” Hamilton said today at the FIA Press Conference. “I was just buzzed all day yesterday because it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. It’s always something I’ve been fascinated about, space and space travel particularly.

“So to actually go there… and I had a million questions. I’m sure the guy got fed up with me. I asked a lot of questions and I got to see a lot of great things, some of the new technology they are working on and yeah, I want to go back.”

The Mercedes AMG Petronas team posted a gallery of Hamilton’s adventure on its website, linked here, and a few samples are below.

As for the Red Bull pair, the young duo of Ricciardo and Verstappen were equally awestruck by the experience.

“There really are a lot of similarities between this and F1, just the technology alone,” Ricciardo said. “I had a guest come to a race last year, when they got into the garage they were like: ‘this is like a space station’. We went to mission control here and it’s really like what we have in the Ops Room in Milton Keynes. Even the safety technology is similar. The astronauts go through the same measurements, a similar kind of HANS device etc. It’s really cool.”

Verstappen added, “There are quite a lot of comparisons, if you really want to talk about it we could go on for an hour! The control center looks pretty similar to ours. We share a lot of the same technology. It was really interesting for us to see that and I bet it would be the same if they could see ours.”

Here’s a link to Red Bull’s gallery and some teaser shots below.