Buddy Lazier will return to this year’s Indy 500

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Buddy Lazier will make his return to the Indianapolis 500 for the first time in four years. The 1996 race champion will be entered in the No. 91 Lazier Partners Racing Chevrolet, the ex-Fan Force United chassis of a year ago. In the official release, no alignment with an existing team was named.

Lazier last attempted to qualify in 2009 with Hemelgarn Racing but missed the field. In 2008, he dragged a car that had no business being in the field to a qualifying position in one of the more memorable Bump Day runs in recent memory.

In 16 starts at the Speedway, Lazier has five top-five finishes. He finished 17th in 2008 and ended in fifth in a Panther Racing-entered car in 2005, his last top-10 finish in the race.

“This all happened roughly 10 days ago and we’re literally putting everything together now,” said Lazier, 45. “Sponsors are coming by the day, but we’re all heading to Indianapolis to get it done. When I was 19 years old I was trying to pass my rookie test in a machinist’s union car that was given to us with an all-voluntary crew. So I’ve done it where it’s last minute and I’ve been there with some of the best teams of their era.”

The move pushes the field to 33 confirmed car and driver combinations, with a 34th car, a second Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, unlikely to run.

INDYCAR: Newgarden, Sato quickest in first of 2 Friday practices at Road America

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Josef Newgarden was quickest in the first of Friday’s two INDYCAR practice sessions at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

The 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champion covered the 4.048-mile, 14-turn course with a best lap of 1:43.0477, followed by Takuma Sato (1:43.4729), Alexander Rossi (1:43.5603), Robert Wickens (1:43.5774) and Marco Andretti (1:43.8825).

Sixth-quickest was Tony Kanaan (1:44.0429), followed by Spencer Pigot (1:44.1080), Zach Veach (1:44.1306), Scott Dixon (1:44.1643) and Matheius Leist (1:44.2963).

Alfonso Celis Jr., making his Verizon IndyCar Series debut and with Juncos Racing, was 22nd quickest in the 23-car field at 1:44.9164, while Gabby Chaves was the slowest driver on the course at 1:46.4485.

While there were no significant incidents during the 45-minute session, a number of drivers struggled in several turns, primarily due to some lingering puddles from overnight rain, as well as on rumble strips that threw their cars into adjacent grass areas.

The second practice session today takes place at 4:15 p.m. ET.

A third practice kicks off Saturday’s busy day at Noon ET, followed by qualifying at 4 p.m. ET, the second round of qualifying at 4:40 p.m. ET and the third and final round of qualifying at 5 p.m. ET.

The weekend’s main event, Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix, takes the green flag shortly after 1 p.m. ET. Make sure to tune in to NBCSN for the live telecast of the race.

We’ll have the full practice grid and driver quotes shortly. Please check back soon.

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