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No break for Dixon to let left foot heal since Indy crash

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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) Scott Dixon had a numb feeling in his injured left foot after all the bumps and braking that come with two races on a street course.

Ideally, Dixon could have used a week or two off after a horrific crash at the Indianapolis 500 to let his foot heal. Instead, it was straight to Detroit the following weekend for IndyCar’s only doubleheader, and now Texas Motor Speedway for a race Saturday night before leaving for the 24-hour race at Le Mans.

“But it’s going to be OK,” Dixon said. “It’s just going to four or five weeks before it’s back to normal. … It should gradually get better anyway. By Le Mans, I should be feeling more comfortable.”

The repaved 1 1/2-mile oval in Texas should provide some relief for Dixon in the No. 9 Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing. The already fast track where Dixon has won twice, and tested at more than 220 mph driving a teammate’s car in April, is smoother now. And there never is much need for braking when in race mode.

“Hopefully not,” he said. “That’s the goal.”

Even without winning a race this year, Dixon is the series points leader at the midpoint of the IndyCar season. He has been the runner-up three times this year, including the first race at Detroit, and has finished in the top six in every race except the 500 after his car flew over the car of Jay Howard and landed atop the inside safety fence. The car was shredded, but the tub of the car remained intact and Dixon was not seriously hurt.

A reporter for IndyCar’s radio network this week (Jake Query -Ed.) shared on Twitter the copy of a handwritten note from a 2nd-grade girl thanking the Indy Car Series for how it responded to keep Dixon safe after the crash.

In the note addressed to IndyCar and signed by Lucy, the girl said she got scared and started crying when she saw the crash. When she saw Dixon limping on TV, she wanted to make sure he was OK, and wrote, “Again, Thank You So Much for Keeping Him Safe!!!”

The father of two young daughters, Dixon responded on Twitter thanking the girl for her “sweet letter”, while telling her he was “doing really well” and hoped to get the chance to meet her one day.

That crash came a week after Dixon and friend Dario Franchitti were robbed at gunpoint while waiting in the drive-thru lane at a Taco Bell, only a mile from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after the 36-year-old New Zealander had the best qualifying run in 21 years at Indy.

“It’s definitely been an interesting season,” Dixon said. “That’s life, you have these crazy ups and down, and that’s what makes it interesting.”

When defending Texas winner Graham Rahal swept the two Detroit races last weekend, he became the first driver this season with multiple victories. Dixon would like to make it eight winners in nine races, and feels like he is close to another win.

“Yeah, I hope so. I think we need a little bit of luck come our way,” Dixon said. “We’ve definitely had some interesting moments where it could have gone the other way and it didn’t. … You’ve got to get everything right, especially with the depth of the field and the competition in the Verizon IndyCar Series now.”

More AP auto racing: http://racing.ap.org

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.