Indy pole sitter Carpenter hosts NHRA champion Brown

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Indianapolis 500 pole sitter Ed Carpenter and his team hosted reigning NHRA Top Fuel champion Antron Brown in his garage today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Brown got to climb into the cockpit of  Carpenter’s No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet.

“It’s just good times to come hang out and support Ed for pulling that pole off,” said Brown, who became the first African-American driver to win a major motorsports title last season. “That was an incredible feat for him and his team, and it’s just cool to be out here with this experience.

After a brief word with the Ed Carpenter Racing squad, Brown hopped into the No. 20 and Carpenter showed him some of the ins and outs of IndyCar technology. The drag racer was very impressed by it all.

“Everything that these cars have evolved into, the way these new cars are – so much safer, so much more sound,” Brown enthused. “The paddle shifters, [having] everything in your steering wheel – that’s what we need in NHRA, everything in the steering wheel.

“They’re racing these small, turbocharged engines and they’re still going the speeds they go. It’s just phenomenal. It tells you how far it’s come in this day and age…That’s pretty special.”

As for the prospect of a potential ride swap in the future, Carpenter sounded open to the idea and said that while he and Brown’s machines may look to have a total contrast, there’s still commonalities between them.

“I’m sure we could both adapt [to the other] if we had enough time,” said Carpenter, IndyCar’s sole owner/driver. “Like anything, seat time is key. But when we were just standing in the garage and looking at the car with all the bodywork off, there’s a lot of technology and a lot of things that aren’t totally different even though [drag racing] is a totally different discipline.”

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

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
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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.