Scott Dixon leads afternoon practice at Sonoma

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Scott Dixon led today’s second practice session for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (Sun., 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN), turning in the fastest lap of the day overall with a time of 1 minute, 18.3145 seconds around the hilly 2.4-mile road course.

After checking out the Sonoma circuit, Dixon, who trails IZOD IndyCar Series championship leader Helio Castroneves by 31 points going into this weekend, believes that it’ll be a tough go-round for himself and the rest of the field.

“A lot of that may be the tires – I think Firestone always has a great product, but maybe the tires just don’t match here that well,” said the two-time series champion.

“It’s definitely making it interesting. In the first [practice] session, you kind of get two or three laps to get it together, and I didn’t get it together whatsoever…I don’t know, it’s really about getting your laps together and making sure you get the most out of the first sort of three laps, and I think as the race goes on, it’s going to make a really interesting race on these roads.”

Castroneves was second-fastest both in the afternoon and overall, logging a time of 1 minute, 18.6694 seconds. Ryan Hunter-Reay’s lap that topped the Friday morning session (1 minute, 18.6814 seconds) was good enough to stand third overall, followed by Will Power in fourth (1 minute, 18.7454 seconds; afternoon) and Dario Franchitti in fifth (1 minute, 18.8124 seconds; morning).

Saturday will see a third practice session at 2 p.m. ET, followed by three rounds of ‘knockout’ qualifying starting at 5:30 p.m. ET. NBCSN will air the qualifying session later on at 9 p.m. ET.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III