Oriol Servia in for Panther at Mid-Ohio

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With Ryan Briscoe still on the mend after suffering a fractured wrist during the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader, Panther Racing has called in Oriol Servia to drive their No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet for this weekend’s Honda 200 (Sun., 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

It will be the Spaniard’s third start of the season for Panther; his most recent came at Iowa Speedway, where he finished seventh.

“We didn’t want to rush Briscoe back from surgery and obviously Oriol is a great IndyCar driver and does a phenomenal job working with our crew,” team co-owner John Barnes said in a statement. “The test day on Wednesday will be a big help and we’re looking forward to a great weekend with our friends from the Ohio National Guard.”

Servia has been relatively consistent at Mid-Ohio over the course of his career, with six Top-10 results in eight career races there. His best finish at M-O was fifth in 2008 for KV Racing Technology. Last year, he finished 10th for Panther DRR.

“Iowa was my last race, and while I love ovals, I’m really looking forward to getting back on a road course,” Servia said in a team statement. “…We have a test day before the race that will be a big help for us fine-tuning the car, and especially for me to knock off a little rust. I’m looking forward to being competitive this weekend and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be.”

Meanwhile, Briscoe will focus on making his return at the Aug. 11 American Le Mans Series event at Road America. He competes in the ALMS full-time for Level 5 Motorsports in addition to his part-time duties in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

“As long as I can turn the wheel at Road America, I’ll be OK,” he said according to RACER Magazine. “It will be tough, but I’m confident I’ll be all right. [ALMS cars] have power steering, which will make things easier.

“Realistically, my next time in an IndyCar will be testing with Panther at Sonoma, but Sonoma is one of the heaviest places [IndyCar goes] to for steering. I’ll have some more time to recover before that race, so I hope I won’t have any limitations for the rest of the season.”

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.