Photo: IndyCar

Sato keeps RLL on top during Saturday afternoon testing at ISM Raceway

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Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s strong Friday pace at ISM Raceway carried over into Saturday, with Takuma Sato topping the speed charts for the second time during the Verizon IndyCar Series’ open test at the one-mile bullring.

Sato’s best lap in the No. 15 Mijack Honda came in at average speed of 189.728 mph, the quickest lap turned in so far.

“So we had another really good session today,” Sato said in a video on the team’s twitter page. “Today was really the final chance to try a qualifying simulation in a hot day, time and temperature, before the actual race. We did a couple of qualifier sims and most of it was a proper run. You see some big teams come up and are very close to the lap time, but we are very competitive again. (Teammate Graham Rahal) and I are just splitting the program out, but we’re looking good.”

Team Penske’s Will Power put his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet in second with a quick lap of 189.276 mph, the only other driver to break into the 189 mph bracket.

Third was Scott Dixon in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, followed by the No. 28 DHL Honda of Ryan Hunter-Reay for Andretti Autosport. Simon Pagenaud joined Penske teammate Will Power in the top five, coming in fifth in his No. 22 Menards Chevrolet.

The clean running from Friday continued on Saturday as well, with the only stoppages coming in the form of track inspections.

Of note: while 23 cars took to the track on Friday, only 22 did so on Saturday. Juncos Racing and driver Kyle Kaiser elected to head home early from the Phoenix test after turning a total of 254 laps between both Friday sessions as well as Thursday’s rookie test, and their No. 32 Chevrolet did not participate in the Saturday running.

Results from Saturday afternoon’s session can be found here. The final session of the weekend rolls off at 8:00 p.m. ET, with streaming continuing on IndyCar’s website.

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NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.