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Peterson, AFS working towards IMSA Prototype program

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LEXINGTON, Ohio – A potential new privateer entrant into the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype class ranks might come in the form of Gary Peterson and his AFS Racing outfit.

Peterson, the longtime supporter of Sebastian Saavedra in the Verizon IndyCar Series, has been exploring the potential of moving his team into IMSA for 2018 and may have a solution in the form of one of the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) chassis.

NBC Sports understands Peterson has had discussions with one of the existing Prototype teams racing this season, and if that team’s manufacturer will make another chassis available, there is a decent chance the car could materialize for the 2018 season.

“We’ve had discussions with teams in that paddock, and we’re looking at seeing if we can put together a DPi effort for next year,” Peterson told NBC Sports.

He plans to attend IMSA’s next race next weekend at Road America for further evaluation as the series releases more of its “state of the series” plan, including its 2018 series schedule.

If the program materializes, and given the number of likely available drivers depending on the Penske and Acura and Joest and Mazda team plans, there are plenty of possibilities who could drive alongside Saavedra, who’d naturally be on board.

Peterson hailed Saavedra’s performance in a one-off fill-in role for Mikhail Aleshin at Toronto with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. The Colombian driver improved methodically during the weekend en route to an 11th place finish.

“We were pleased,” Peterson said. “Sebastian’s job was to keep it clean and bring it home in one piece all weekend, and he did that. We’re not in the points so we accomplished what we set out to do.”

Peterson and Saavedra have been on site this weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, notably in the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports pits, making the rounds as they prep their 2018 program and a potential full-time return in at least one series after a couple years of sporadic appearances only. They also hope to attend at least one more of the remaining IndyCar races on site later this year.

Hartley’s F1 grid penalty streak continues in Abu Dhabi

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Brendon Hartley’s record of receiving a grid penalty at every Formula 1 race he has started is set to continue in Abu Dhabi this weekend after Toro Rosso was forced to change part of his Renault power unit following the last race in Brazil.

Since making his F1 debut at the United States Grand Prix last month, Hartley has faced a grid drop at all three races he has started so far amid ongoing reliability difficulties for power unit supplier Renault.

After being forced to retire from the last race in Brazil two weeks ago due to an engine issue, Hartley has received a 10-place grid penalty for Abu Dhabi after it was confirmed Toro Rosso had changed the MGU-H on his power unit.

Hartley is yet to score any points in F1, having retired from two of his three races so far to make his debut run to P13 in Austin his best result to date.

The Toro Rosso driver finished 20th in FP1 and 19th in FP2 during Friday’s practice sessions in Abu Dhabi as he continued to get to grips with the Yas Marina Circuit.