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Newgarden leads, Hildebrand spins in Iowa first practice

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Both Josef Newgarden and Ed Carpenter Racing will look to follow up Newgarden’s dominant performance at the Iowa Corn 300 (Sunday, 5 p.m. ET, NBCSN) at this year’s stop on the calendar.

For most of the first Verizon IndyCar Series practice Saturday at the 0.894-mile Iowa Speedway, it was Carpenter on top – until the final five minutes when Newgarden supplanted his old boss and old teammate.

Newgarden took his No. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Team Penske Chevrolet to a best speed of 185.609 mph (17.3397 seconds) near the end of the session, leading a Team Penske top-three sweep in the session.

Teammate Will Power and Simon Pagenaud were next at 185.260 and 184.401 mph, respectively, in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet and No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet.

Carpenter took the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet to a best speed of 184.137 mph. Carpenter makes his fourth start of the season, all on ovals, with Spencer Pigot back in his usual spectator role for the oval races.

The session was initially only meant to be 75 minutes, but was extended five minutes following Carpenter’s teammate JR Hildebrand crashing in Turn 2 in his No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet with just under 15 minutes remaining. Hildebrand got his left side wheels below the white line and spun backwards into the Turn 2 wall.

While Hildebrand got his hands off the steering wheel, it was fortunate he did so. The steering wheel popped off the car on impact and flew into the air, which also happened last year when Charlie Kimball had an accident in practice at Pocono Raceway and it popped off.

Marco Andretti was fifth and top Honda. Andretti’s most recent IndyCar win came in 2011 at Iowa Speedway, part of Andretti Autosport’s run of six consecutive victories at the track from 2010 through 2015.

Scott Dixon had a shortened session with penalties assessed following the Road America weekend, forced to sit out the final 20 minutes for three violations: entering the course after a checkered flag in the warmup, entering the pit lane from the paddock under power and failing to observe INDYCAR direction.

Speeds are below. Qualifying comes up at 2 p.m. CT, 3 p.m. ET, live on NBCSN.

McLaren almost back on schedule with 2018 F1 car after delay

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McLaren is almost back on schedule with its 2018 Formula 1 car development after losing two weeks due to a delay in deciding on its engine supplier, according to racing director Eric Boullier.

McLaren confirmed back in September it would be cutting ties with Honda at the end of the year after three difficult seasons, favoring a switch to Renault power units.

The decision was not taken lightly by McLaren, causing it to lose two weeks in the development of next year’s car, but Boullier confirmed in an interview with the official F1 website that the team is almost back on-track.

“Maybe we made the decision to change the engine manufacturer two weeks too late for our schedule, but these two weeks have almost been recovered,” Boullier said.

“Any big decisions are always difficult to take. The concept of McLaren winning with Honda was a dream for everybody, yes – it was a beautiful story.

“Today we have huge respect for them and we definitely don’t divorce with fights and screams and finger pointing. We are all very professional – and in the end it was a business decision, which they understand.

“There is a sadness that it didn’t work out like we wanted. McLaren-Honda in terms of brands was a good fit – in terms of results it didn’t work.

“That’s what it is in the end. Now we have to see that we get back to competitiveness – back to the top!”