Hunter-Reay leads Toronto IndyCar practice

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A pair of Americans led the IZOD IndyCar Series timesheets for its only weekend north of the border this year, as defending Honda Indy Toronto winner Ryan Hunter-Reay edged Josef Newgarden in IndyCar’s 90-minute lone practice before qualifying.

Hunter-Reay, driver of the No. 1 DHL Chevrolet for Andretti Autosport, lapped the 1.755-mile street circuit in 1:00.6082, with Newgarden in the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda next up at 1:00.6851.

Ryan Briscoe (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet) had his best session of the season in third, 1:00.6890, ahead of rookie Tristan Vautier and Marco Andretti. Vautier returns to orange, red and black Visit Florida colors for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports after four weekends in the blue and white of Coastal.com for the No. 55 Honda.

Canadians James Hinchcliffe and Alex Tagliani clocked in 11th and 14th on home soil. Mike Conway, returning in Dale Coyne Racing’s second car, was only 23rd of 24 cars.

Most of the session was spent practicing standing starts in preparation for race one of the weekend on Saturday, while Sunday’s race will have rolling starts.

There were two red flags, one for Will Power stopped in Turn 3, and the second for Dario Franchitti after he brushed the wall in Turn 5 and stopped in Turn 6.

Reviewing Danica Patrick’s highs and lows at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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So much of Danica Patrick’s fame can be traced to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It’s where she became a household name 13 years ago when she became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 and emerged as a transcendent athlete.

It’s where everything started. This Sunday, it’s where everything will end, too.

In her last warmup before starting the final race of her career, Patrick had a bumpy final practice Friday on Carb Day. She was eighth fastest, but her Dallara-Chevrolet was in the garage most of the session because of an electrical problem in the engine. After returning during the final 10 minutes of the session, Patrick’s No. 13 seemed to be OK.

“At the end of the day, these are things you’re actually glad for, because if this had happened Sunday, we would have been done,” she said. “I’m glad to get the issues out of the way early on. Overall, today felt good. We made some changes when I went out the second time, and I’m feeling good about starting seventh on Sunday.”
Though she has had her share of success – along with a fourth in her debut, there was a third in 2009 and six top 10s in seven starts — Patrick has learned well how to handle frustration at the 2.5-mile track, too.

Fuel mileage might have kept her from winning her debut, a pit collision ruined 2008, and an unstable setup made 2010 a wild ride.

For a review of her up-and-down history at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and her legacy in racing, watch the video essay above that ran during Friday’s NASCAR America Motorsports Special on NBCSN.