Ryan Hunter-Reay parlayed his testing pace at Sonoma into the fastest time in Friday’s first official practice session for the IZOD IndyCar Series’ GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (4 p.m. EST, Sunday, NBCSN). The Andretti Autosport driver lapped the 2.3-mile Sonoma Raceway at 1:18.6814 as he seeks his third win of the season, and second on a permanent road course (Barber) this year.
Helio Castroneves (Team Penske) and Dario Franchitti (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) were next up at 1:18.6976 and 1:18.8124, respectively in the 45-minute session. All three went out fairly late in the session before setting their fastest laps. Temperatures increased from 64 (ambient) and 92 (track) degrees Fahrenheit to 67 and 98 by the end of the session.
RHR’s Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti, 2006 Sonoma winner, clocked in fourth ahead of Ryan Briscoe, for Panther Racing.
Of note, JR Hildebrand was ninth in his first official session for Barracuda Racing, James Davison was 19th and Lucas Luhr 25th among the part-time entries.
The second practice session from Sonoma occurs at 5 p.m. EST (2 p.m. PST and local time) later Friday afternoon.
Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.
Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.