Hunter-Reay out after contact with tire barrier

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Defending IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay is out of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach after crashing into the tire barriers at Turn 8 on Lap 49 of the 80 lap race.

Hunter-Reay was seeking to go to the inside of Ana Beatriz but carried too much speed into the corner and went into the tires. He will be credited with a 23rd place finish after winning the most recent IZOD IndyCar Series race two weeks ago at Barber Motorsports Park.

The American driver was already mired in the back after sustaining damage in an earlier incident that also involved Andretti Autosport teammates James Hinchcliffe and E.J. Viso, as well as Tony Kanaan. Hinchcliffe’s car came out the worst in the run-in at Lap 35 and the Canadian was knocked out of the race.

“Some of the corners that are my strongest were my weakest today,” Hunter-Reay told the NBC Sports Network when he got out of the car following his crash at Turn 8. “I started just trying things. We were in the back anyway. I had to go for it, and got inside of Ana, and I just drove in too hot. There was no grip on the inside there.

“I was just trying things — anything to make a bad day go a little bit better. But it just went from bad to worse. I feel bad for the guys. They gave me a great car all weekend. We just missed it today and I absolutely missed it out on the track.”

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.