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Grosjean playing catch-up in Mexico after missing FP1, FP2 tire issue

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Romain Grosjean made no secret of his frustration after a difficult Friday of Formula 1 practice running in Mexico that saw him complete just three laps for Haas.

Grosjean was forced to sit out FP1 so that Ferrari junior Antonio Giovinazzi could enter the session as part of his development program, and then suffered a left-rear tire blowout in FP2 that caused damage to his car, ending his session after just three laps.

“The car was very on the nose on the lap I did. I really struggled with the rear end. Initially, I didn’t know what was happening – if we had too much aero balance or just didn’t get the setup right,” Grosjean said.

“I had that spin that I wasn’t expecting, and then I saw the tire flying apart. I don’t know which came first, the eggs or the chicken, but it felt pretty strange on that lap.”

The setbacks have left Grosjean in need of a productive final practice on Saturday morning, with just one hour of running left before qualifying.

“We need to get some laps tomorrow, but we’re never going to get a long run. Clearly you shoot yourself in the foot when you’ve got a Friday when you don’t drive in FP1 and FP2,” Grosjean said.

“Again, we’ll try to do our best for tomorrow. I believe we’ve got two sets of ultra-softs to prepare for qualifying in FP3. From there, we’re just going to guess what we need for the race.”

IndyCar star Scott Dixon to test skills on ‘American Ninja Warrior’

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Scott Dixon will be the latest IndyCar driver to enter the realm of reality TV when he auditions in Indianapolis next week for “American Ninja Warrior.”

The four-time IndyCar champion, nicknamed “The Iceman,” thought it sounded fun when he was approached with the idea of trying out. As the competition has drawn near, Dixon is wondering what he got himself into.

“I feel a lot of pressure on this one,” Dixon told The Associated Press before heading to this weekend’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. “When it got to be about a month away, I figured I should start training for it, and it’s pretty hard stuff.”

IndyCar drivers Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden and Tony Kanaan all auditioned for the show, which follows competitors as they tackle a series of obstacle courses in qualifying rounds across the country. None of IndyCar’s contestants advanced out of the first round and neither did NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Dixon’s appearance comes about the same time the Game Show Network has Sebastien Bourdais as a guest host for “Daily Draw” for the entire week leading into the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Most recently, Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly teamed to finish fourth on “The Amazing Race,” and James Hinchcliffe was a runner-up last year on “Dancing With The Stars.” Castroneves is a former “DWTS” winner.

Dixon, the 2008 winner of the Indianapolis 500 who ranks fourth on IndyCar’s all-time wins list, is accustomed to success. But the New Zealander not so sure he’s going to become the next great ninja. Most of his fitness work focuses on endurance training, and preparing for the obstacle course has taken Dixon out of his element.

“It’s not my wheelhouse,” he said. “This is agility kind of stuff and I’m looking forward to the process. I’m not looking forward so much to the failure, because it’s going to happen at some point, so I guess I just have to make the most of it and enjoy the experience.”

Dixon was famously robbed at gunpoint in the drive-thru of a Taco Bell last year hours after he won the pole for the Indy 500. Asked if his ninja training will have him better prepared should that happen again, he did not think so.

“I suppose if I run away it would help,” Dixon said. “But I don’t exactly have a ninja toolkit to get me through that situation.”