Here’s what we know after handful of IndyCar teams test at Sonoma Tuesday

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Official bits of information were limited from an IZOD IndyCar Series’ manufacturer/team test at Sonoma Raceway on Tuesday, but eight teams were on hand and there a few noteworthy items:

  • Two drivers, Lucas Luhr and Ryo Hirakawa, made their testing debuts. Luhr’s been confirmed to race on August 25 in the No. 97 RW/SFHR Honda as a teammate to Josef Newgarden and with some Muscle Milk Pickett Racing support. Hirakawa, the 19-year-old 2012 Japanese Formula 3 champion, was the latest through the revolving door of Dale Coyne’s second car. Hirakawa impressed and tweeted late in the day, “Finally I finished the first IRL test without any trouble with the 0.7 sec off the pace.” I’m impressed by his pace – the next step for him is calling it INDYCAR and not IRL…
  • Ryan Briscoe, 2012 Sonoma race winner, returned to action for Panther Racing for the first time since fracturing his wrist at race one of the Honda Indy Toronto in July, exactly one month ago. He’s missed two IndyCar (Carlos Munoz and Oriol Servia replaced him) and American Le Mans Series (Mike Conway and Simon Pagenaud) races apiece in that stretch. Sonoma’s a physical track but it’s good to see INDYCAR clear the Australian for it. His most recent action was in the NBC Sports Network broadcast booth at Mid-Ohio.
  • The @IndyCarPR “very unofficial” fast 5 at the lunch break had Ryan Hunter-Reay leading at a 1:18.8. Unofficial times from those on site – RACER’s Marshall Pruett, Autosport’s Mark Glendenning and the @OnTheLimitBlog site – pegged laps in the 1:20 bracket.
  • Here’s your tweet roundup we found from the others at the track today, which included all four Andretti Autosport drivers (Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti, E.J. Viso), Dragon Racing’s pair (Sebastian Saavedra, Sebastien Bourdais), owner/driver Ed Carpenter, Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Graham Rahal and James Jakes, and Dale Coyne’s Justin Wilson.

 

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
Barry Chin / Getty Images
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

How to Watch Nitro Rallycross

Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.