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.
Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.
The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.
Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.
“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”
Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”
Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.
The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.