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IMSA schedule day provides some 2018 IndyCar dates

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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – The full 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series calendar isn’t out yet but between dates already announced and then dates that have been announced today via IMSA, with three of its series calendars getting released, you can start penciling in weekends on the IndyCar calendar.

IMSA confirms four 2018 IndyCar dates. The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will continue alongside the Long Beach and Detroit dates, and those are April 13-14 (Long Beach) and June 1-2 (Detroit) respectively.

IMSA’s Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama also will run on two IndyCar weekends at Barber Motorsports Park and Sonoma Raceway. Those dates were revealed for April 21-22 (Barber) and Sept. 14-16 (Sonoma).

The pair of April confirmations for Long Beach and Barber, coupled with the one-year only move of Phoenix from the first weekend in April to the last weekend of April owing to the NCAA Men’s Final Four Championship, also indirectly confirms that race moves forward a week ahead of Long Beach to April 7.

In January this year, International Speedway Corp.’s 2016 Annual Report listed Phoenix’s date as April 13-14, but that date was incorrect. Phoenix will instead move to the weekend before Long Beach and provide a West Coast back-to-back run for the Verizon IndyCar Series teams; this was noted by NBCSN contributor Robin Miller last month.

With St. Petersburg kicking off the season on March 11, then with the month of May dates for the INDYCAR Grand Prix and 102nd Indianapolis 500 on May 12 and May 27, respectively, most of the dates for 2018 are already coming into full focus.

Mexico City rumors continue to percolate as well; while all 2017 races are locked into the 2018 schedule, and most figure to be on the same weekends, INDYCAR (sanctioning body) has not yet set a time frame to announce the full schedule.

It is worth noting that Daytona, rather than Kentucky, takes on the July 7-8 weekend (would be Iowa’s weekend for IndyCar) for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, and will run on Saturday night on NBC. Kentucky shifts a week later to Saturday night, July 14 (would be Toronto’s weekend) and runs on NBCSN.

And unless there are any major or unforeseen changes, the date equity long sought after for INDYCAR may be becoming a reality.

Here’s the announced Verizon IndyCar Series dates in 2018:

  • March 11, St. Petersburg
  • April 7, Phoenix
  • April 15, Long Beach
  • April 22, Barber
  • May 12, INDYCAR Grand Prix
  • May 27, Indianapolis 500
  • June 2-3, Detroit doubleheader
  • June 24, Road America
  • Sept. 16, Sonoma

Hamilton tops second Abu Dhabi F1 practice with new track record

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Lewis Hamilton swept to the top of the timesheets in second Formula 1 practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Friday evening, beating Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel by one-tenth of a second.

Hamilton trailed Vettel through the daytime-run opening practice session, but managed to strike back by recording a new track record at the Yas Marina Circuit for Mercedes.

Hamilton recorded a fastest lap time of 1:37.877 to finish one-tenth of a second clear of Vettel at the checkered flag, appearing to have an edge across a single lap on the ultra-soft tire.

Red Bull threw its hat into the ring as a possible rival for pole through Daniel Ricciardo, who finished the session third-fastest, three-tenths of a second back from Hamilton at the head of the field.

Kimi Raikkonen ended FP2 in fourth place in the sister Ferrari, finishing within half a second of Hamilton, and managed to edge out fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas, who was a further two-tenths back in P5.

Max Verstappen failed to get in a quick flying lap during FP2, ending the session one second down in P6 for Red Bull.

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon’s tight intra-team fight at Force India continued through FP2 as the pair were separated by just 0.01 seconds, taking seventh and eighth respectively to finish as the leading midfield drivers.

Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso completed the top 10 for Renault and McLaren, with Felipe Massa following in 11th for Williams on his final Friday appearance in F1.

Massa was fortunate to avoid an accident with Ricciardo during the final 15 minutes of the session after a mix up at the hairpin when the Brazilian tried to get a wider line for the back straight.

Running in Abu Dhabi continues with final practice at Yas Marina on Saturday morning from 5am ET on the NBC Sports app, followed by qualifying at 8am ET on NBCSN.