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Briscoe stays in one place for all of next weekend: Toronto with Panther

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For the second weekend in a row, Ryan Briscoe will have two races. The difference is, this time they’ll be in the same car at the same track.

The Australian stays aboard the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet for the IZOD IndyCar Series’ trip to the streets of Toronto this upcoming weekend, for the doubleheader Honda Indy Toronto.

He’s coming off a weekend where he won the P2 class in the American Le Mans Series in his Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-03b, then rose from 24th and last to 14th on Sunday in the Panther Chevrolet in Pocono. The P2 win was controversial after late race contact with another HPD, driven by Guy Cosmo of Extreme Speed Motorsports.

Panther Racing managing partner John Barnes confirmed the news via Twitter Monday morning.

Barnes likes Briscoe enough that it seems he’s working to keep him for as many races as possible, even despite the schedule conflicts with ALMS, and the fact Oriol Servia has also raced the No. 4 car and has no other conflicts.

Briscoe has racked up the frequent flier miles over the last two months. Starting May 11 in Monterey, he raced the Level 5 HPD there, then headed to Indianapolis to drive Chip Ganassi’s fourth car for the month of May.

In June, he made his Panther debut at Detroit, flew to Le Mans to test the Level 5 HPD, flew back to Milwaukee for Panther, flew back to Le Mans for the 24-hour race, then had an off weekend before resuming with the doubleheader across states and series this past weekend.

There are two more weekend conflicts the remainder of this season between IndyCar and ALMS. On October 5-6, IndyCar is in Houston while ALMS is at Virginia on the Saturday, and on Oct. 19, both have their season finales in Fontana (IndyCar) and Atlanta (ALMS). The Atlanta race starts earlier in the day.

Oh, and there’s also Baltimore Aug. 31-Sept. 1 when IndyCar and ALMS share the weekend, and Briscoe could hop between both cars. At this point, you can’t rule anything out about where and in what car he’ll be racing the rest of the year.

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.